Back to School: 4 ways to stuff your backpack on a budget

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COLUMBUS - The markers, pens, notebooks, folders, glue and countless other school supplies can add up. Local consumer advocates offer advice on keeping families’ school supplies costs down.

The Central Ohio Better Business Bureau recommends setting a budget before a family leaves home. Local mom and savings blogger Mary Hoover also says to take inventory before getting into your car.

“The best way to start your list is to see what you already have,” said “Mission to Save” Blogger Mary Hoover. “Don’t forget about that glue stick or barely-used notebook. I've checked with the teachers. It’s okay to tear out a few pages and just reuse those things.”

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She also recommends shopping at more than one store to take advantage of the different school items on sale at each location. Price-matching can help cut down on stops.

“Just make sure you have the exact item. If it's washable markers that you need and the regular markers that are on sale on the ad, you're not going to be able to price match that.”

The Central Ohio BBB offered tips for back to school shopping:

  • Determine a budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend per person in advance. Creating a shopping list can help you avoid costly impulse purchases.
  • Have a plan. Schools often provide parents with a list of required items for the school year. These lists are also available at many retail stores and on school websites.
  • Take inventory. Before hitting the stores, see which items you already have. You may have leftover supplies from the previous school year or items you can reuse.
  • Check for refund and exchange policies.

For some families, budgeting for back-to-school expenses may be difficult.

Several local charities help make sure as many children as possible have what they need for their first day of school.

Ohio Newsboys Association, Inc., known best as the Charity Newsies, is one of the organizations accredited by the BBB. Charity Newsies helped provide clothing for over 500,000 school children in Franklin County over the years and are currently taking applications from families desiring assistance.

To learn more about Mission to Save click here.

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