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Saving on school supplies

Posted: 4:35 PM, Aug 17, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-17 16:35:57-04

Even with a decrease in the price of school supplies over the last year, the average family spends more than $600 a year on supplies and fees. According to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index the annual costs are as follows:

Elementary school: $659
Middle school: $957
High school: $1,498

With that kind of a price tag staring parents in the face any type of savings on supplies is helpful. Personal-finance experts offer the following suggestions:

1. Look for leftovers
Crayons and pencils don't need to be brand-new to be useful. Take a look in the closet for anything still in good working order from the previous school year.

2. Don't buy everything at the same store
Different stores will have different sales so while you might get a great deal on notebooks at one place you may find a better price on pens somewhere else. Dollar stores often have the best deals on disposable items. That said...

3. Don't skip on durable items
Experts say it's worth spending a few extra dollars on a good backpack that may last more than one school year. The same goes for binders and even folders.

4. Leave the kids at home
It's only natural for kids to want folders with the most-popular move or TV characters on them. But those items usually cost more than something generic. Shopping alone will at least allow you to avoid listening to any complaining until after the fact.

5. Wait until the school year starts
Many stores will cut prices a couple weeks into the school year in order to clear our their stock. Only buy what you absolutely need in August and then stock up when the sales start.

The need to save money may have you looking at off-brand products. The Environmental Working Group urges parents to be careful because some supplies have been found to be toxic.

A report released last year mentioned asbestos in Chinese-made crayons as well as toxic solvents in superglue. It recommends parents buy American-made products and not assume something is safe just because it's on the shelves at a reputable store. It says stain-resistant clothes and anti-bacterial hand sanitizers can include chemicals linked to cancer and hormone problems.