Parents look for bargains in back-to-school shopping

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It's the season for back-to-school shopping and parents are looking for ways to save.

Erin Siebert, a mother of three, loaded up the family van after shopping Monday afternoon. She found dry erase boards, but has more school supplies to buy.

"Notebook paper, crayons, pencils, markers, rules, glue and dry erase boards. Those kinds of things," she said.

A Pricegrabber survey revealed 63 percent of consumers plan to spend up to $500 this school year, compared to less than 50 percent who spent that amount in 2011.

"If consumers think that we are going to have a good economic environment, they are going to spend more, they are going to plan to spend more," said financial expert Matt Will.

Cherie Lowe gives shopping advice to mothers in her blog, "The Queen of Free." She helps people not only find freebies, but bargains, too.

"Things will go on sale in a cycle, or a schedule, so pick up the scissors this week and the crayons next week and patiently time your offers. Your are probably going to get the best deals," Lowe said.

The Pricegrabber survey also says that 51 percent of shoppers will buy new backpacks this school year. Lowe says to get one that won't go out of style in one school year.

"Sometimes if we have crayons that are not worn down, we use those for the next year, too," Siebert said.

The Queen of Free says while browsing school ads, ask yourself several questions.

"Will a character-based item, like a Spiderman backpack, cost more?"

"Is there a minimum purchase?"

"Are you buying a rebate item?"

"Do you really need it?"

This year, 40 percent of shoppers will also splurge on high-tech items, like laptops, tablets computers and smartphones to head back to school.

Best deals this week

We did a little shopping for you and found the best deals on school supplies this week at area office supply stores. Office Max has a pack of ballpoint pens for 25 cents, $1 poly three-ring binders and 10-cent Purell.

Staples has writing pads for a penny and three-ring binders for a dollar, each with a $5 minimum purchase, and Bic pens for 25 cents. Office Depot has 24-count boxes of Crayola crayons and rulers for 50 cents and for 10 cents, you can buy pencil sharpeners or two-pocket folders.

Queen of Free

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