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Clothing tops list of back-to-school cost
Experts estimate parents to spend about $550 per child

School resumes in Knox County on Thursday, Aug. 12, which means that parents and kids will soon be heading to shopping centers for the latest in back to school apparel, backpacks and classroom supplies.

According to a recent survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation, parents can expect to spend approximately $550 on back-to-school related expenses. Clothing will account for the majority of the purchases, followed by consumer electronics and school supplies.

Carol Bales, mother of a rising ninth-grade Farragut High School student, Kristen, and a rising third-grade Farragut Intermediate School student, Sarah, said that she will easily spend $500 on each daughter for back to school clothing, shoes and supplies.

“As far as school supplies go, I will probably buy everything in one trip,” Bales said. “But with the clothing, we usually pick things up as we see them throughout the summer.”

Bales said that the mild weather in Tennessee makes it easier for the girls to wear some of the same clothing from last season when they start the new school year.

“If the clothes still fit, the girls can wear some of the same spring outfits in the fall,” Bales said.

Shopping the back to school sales is one way to cut shopping expenses, but according to Kim Danger, author of an online money saving newsletter “The Dollar Stretcher,” with proper planning, parents can find many ways to save money.

Danger suggests that parents first check to see what their kids have in the closet. According to Danger, separating the clothing into two piles —items that can be worn again and those to be given to younger siblings or charity — are good ways to determine wardrobe needs.

Secondly, round up the lunch boxes backpacks, calculators, and notebooks to see what can be used and repair anything that is slightly bruised.

Danger also suggests that parents use the shopping experience as a way to teach their children budgeting skills. “Tell your kids how much you have to spend and have them participate in the budgeting process,” she said.

Danger said that when children have a concrete amount in hand, they make better decisions and learn to comparative shop.

Another suggestion that Danger made is to buy children only one or two outfits to start out the school year. “Chances are your kids will come home from school having seen all of the new trends that they missed out on and wish they had,” she said. “With the money left over, they can get what they really want.”

Danger recommended comparing prices and weekly store ads to get the best value for the dollar; and if parents wait until after school starts, they may be able to take advantage of the clearance sales.

“Shop the thrift stores,” Danger said. “No one will guess that your child’s new brand name sweatshirt was actually second hand, and remember to check out the online auction services for great deals on new or slightly worn clothing.”

Finally, realize that with teens, labels do matter. “Tell your children that clothing does not define them, but do allow them to wear the brand names that are in demand,” Danger said.

Bales said, “The first day of school is usually the most important day to pick just the right outfit.”

She added, “After that everyone seems to relax a little more.”

To learn more about the “Dollar Stretcher” online newsletter, log onto


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