Tips for saving on your back to school shopping

(MGN Online)

REDMOND - If you haven't started your back to school shopping already, you may be in for a surprise.

The National Retail Federation puts the average cost for supplies, electronics, and clothes this year at more than $670 per child. That's a seven percent increase from last year, officials say.

At the Target in Redmond, KOMO News found shoppers looking for deals and steals on back-to-school necessities. Jordan Dolan says she manages the increasing costs by spreading her kids' shopping over the entire summer.

"Every time we go out and run errands, we look to see if we can find some good deals," Dolan says, adding she often finds great discounts on clothes by looking in the clearance sections.

Over in supplies, Nadia Ali was shopping for her ten-year-old twins.

"It's not just the school supplies," Ali says. "The overall school package is good for $500 to $600, and that's per kid."

Shopping experts and moms like Dolan and Ali say finding a good deal starts with keeping your eyes peeled. We found coupons advertised in the school supply aisles at the Redmond Target, easy to download on your smartphone. And Target offers a weekly online ad.

For electronics, experts say you can save around 40% if you buy a refurbished computer. Best Buy offers "Open Box" discounts on items that were returned by a previous customer, checked out by technicians, and found to be in working order. We also found deals specifically targeted for college students, easy to access online.

"You enter your Best Buy information, the school you go to, and it emails you a list of coupons," says Matthew Woodley, the Computer Sales Supervisor at Bellevue's Best Buy. "You can save additional money on top of the current sales."

Savvy back-to-school shoppers also point to second-hand clothing stores for big discounts on designer brands. For Plato's Closet store employee Christian Lopez, "it's like Christmas."

"We price things 60% to 80% off the original retail price," Lopez says. We found designer jeans, shirts, and shoes in our visit to the Bellevue location. But it's not just a chance to save money. Customers can also make a little money on the clothes they no longer need.

"We offer the customer 30% to 40% off our price, cash on the spot," Lopez says.

For parents who may be helping their teen with a first car, Consumer Reports' auto experts recommend a reliable sedan with a good safety record. Cars like the Subaru Legacy, the Honda Civic, and the Mazda 3 received high marks from Consumer Reports. Their more conservative costs and safety records will help keep insurance costs down, experts say. And you don't have to buy new. A used car no older than 2012 will have standard electronic stability control, an important safety feature, Consumer Reports says.

Finally, look online for deals. Websites like RetailMeNot and Tradesy offer deals, discounts, and swaps.

"I'm always looking at getting good coupons and good pricing so I save a little bit," says Nadia Ali.

And that little bit can add up fast.

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