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Agency educates parents on back-to-school spending

PHOENIX — With back-to-school season in full swing, parents are expected to spend about $74.9 billion on school supplies this year, an increase of 12 percent from last year.

To make the most out of the family budget, Take Charge America, a national nonprofit and debt management agency, is helping parents save without leaving out the essentials for their children.

“Back-to-school spending is second only to the holidays, and the outlay is higher and higher each year,” said Mike Sullivan, director of education for the organization, in a press release.

Sullivan’s tips for cutting costs on back-to-school shopping include taking stock of what supplies you might already have at home before buying new ones and sticking to the list — don’t buy more than you have to.

Many popular brands offer coupons especially for back-to-school clothing and supplies through their respective websites or on social media. You can also save money by looking for the best prices at dollar stores throughout the year, and stocking up when back-to-school season arrives.

Or simply wait. Some stores offer discount prices after the rush, so parents can choose to buy some items after Labor Day to save extra. Many states also offer tax-free shopping during back-to-school season.

If you’d rather not spend on a full wardrobe, try second-hand or clothing swaps. Craigslist and eBay are good options for finding your favorite brands at a fraction of the cost.

Kids should be included in the back-to-school shopping process. When they learn about budgets and are smart about spending, they will gain a powerful lesson about the value of money.