Back to school: Here are some things you should know going into the 2019-20 school year

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Just in case you haven’t done your back-to-school shopping here are some helpful tip to complete your list and save money. 

Households are expected to spend an average of nearly $697 on back-to-school shopping, according to a National Retail Federation study. That’s an increase of about $12 from last year. Families of college students are expected to spend an average of $977, the study found.

The following six tips can help you shop smarter and save on back-to-school shopping.

1. Plan ahead with a budget

Unlike an emergency, which strikes unexpectedly, back-to-school happens every year. And that means you can map out a saving and spending strategy ahead of time.

If you involve your child in the budgeting process, the teachable moment will be when items that are outside the budget present themselves.

2. Stick to the teacher’s list

When it comes to shopping for school supplies, keep it simple.

“The long list of needs that teachers ask their students to bring is daunting enough, so make sure you stick to the items that are necessities and less on the wants,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot.

3. Look into sales-tax holidays and sales

You can really maximize your spending during sales 

“Take advantage of the sales and focus on apparel the kids can wear all year long,” Skirboll says. 

Also, hold off on buying clothing until the end of summer when sales will begin, Skirboll says.

But don’t feel pressured to buy something just because it’s on sale, especially if the item isn’t on your shopping list.

4. Don’t overpay for tech gadgets

We’ve all bought some expensive technology only for it to eventually serve as a paperweight.

“I would resist the urge to buy your kid the newest, most expensive computer or phone,” Rachel Cruze, a personal finance expert and New York Times best-selling author says. “Think about what they really need these things for and stick to the basics. And don’t forget to ask about student discounts. Most major computer and software brands offer discounts or special deals for students.”

When you’re buying expensive items, such as a tablet or calculator, make sure you compare prices at different retailers to make sure you’re getting the best deals, Skirboll says.

5. Don’t cut corners on items that might break

If a sale item comes in the form of a low-quality product, you could find yourself making the same purchase again later in the school year.

For instance, a backpack is likely going to be needed each year.

“Instead of buying a cheap one that will probably fall apart by the end of the semester, it might be worth spending a little more on a backpack that could last one to two years,” Cruze says.

6. Save money by comparison shopping online

Shopping online can help you save in many ways.

You’ll save on gas for your car or the cost of transportation. But most importantly, you’ll probably find better deals by quickly comparing different sites instead of the time it takes to go to different stores in person.

RELATED: Bulletproof backpacks now on shelves in Charlotte, in time for back to school shopping

RELATED: Just In Time For ‘Back to School’ Shopping, Bulletproof Backpacks Available at Triad OfficeMax/Office Depot Stores

Something parents might also look to add to their shopping list is a bulletproof backpack.

Office Max and Office Depot in North Carolina and South Carolina have stocked their shelves with the Guard Dog Security brand bulletproof backpacks, tested to withstand bullets from a handgun The backpacks retail or around $150 to $200.

The company’s founder, Yasir Sheikh, said he doesn’t want parents or students to be afraid, just prepared.

And if you happen to pick up extra supplies or just looking to donate, here’s what you can do with them.

WCNC NBC Charlotte and Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill have teamed up to collect school supplies for teachers by benefiting Classroom Central.

School supplies can be dropped off at participating Salarita’s restaurant locations between August 12 and August 21.

Salsarita’s Cotswold
304 S. Sharon Amity Rd., Charlotte, NC 28211

Salsarita’s Bank of America
101 S. Tryon St., Suite 5, Charlotte, NC 28202

Salsarita’s Rivergate
12807 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28273

Salsarita’s Lake Pointe
2908 Oak Lake Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28208

Salsarita’s Blakeney
9941 Rea Rd., Charlotte, NC 28277

Salsarita’s Indian Land
8374 Charlotte Highway, Indian Land, SC 29707

Salsarita’s Prosperity Church Rd.
5920 Highland Shoppes Drive, Charlotte, NC 28269

Salsarita’s Salisbury
120 Rowan Summit Dr., Salisbury, NC 28146

Salsarita’s Denver
112 South NC-16 Business, Denver, NC 28037

Salsarita’s Harris Blvd.
1530 Overland Park Lane, Charlotte, NC 28262

Salsarita’s Rock Hill
295 Herlong Ave., Rock Hill, SC 29732

College Dorm and Apartment Cooking gadgets - if you change the sort settings on the Amazon page, it will show other items by price

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