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Wallet Watchers: Helping You Save Money

Back-to-school sales add up to savings

Every year, parents scramble the last days of July and first weeks of August to get everything their children need, and want, to head back to school.

In fact, a recent survey from the National Retail Federation suggested this year's back-to-school spending will climb to $30.3 billion. That's only for children in grades K-12. For college, that number more than doubles. Here are a few tips to make the ritual a little less heavy on the wallet.

Clothes and shoes

If your kid grew a few inches over the summer, chances are you'll need to buy pants, shirts and shoes. For younger kids, the big-box office stores could help. Walmart and Kmart offer some good deals, but Target has the biggest potential for savings.

Target offers coupons online. You can also subscribe to get coupons sent to your phone. The company also just rolled out a new savings tool called Cartwheel that offers deals of 5-30 percent off on clothes, shoes and household items. If you have the Target debit or credit cards, take an extra 5 percent off purchases at checkout.

Coupons are still in. Sunday papers are full of them. You can also get them straight to your e-mail by signing up for alerts on the retailer's website. Some of the stores big on coupons are Kohl's, JC Penney and TJ Maxx.

School supplies

Look for the annual 1-cent sales at Staples and Office Max. It usually requires a minimum $5 purchase to in turn get pencils, pens, protractors, folders and more for just a few cents each. Pretty much all other big stores run great deals on supplies. The key is to buy in bulk so they last through the year and sometimes into the following. As soon as all schools are open, some stores such as Target will run clearance sales on those supplies. Stock up.

Do-it-yourself, recycling

It's time to get back to packing lunches. Cooking and prepping meals at home is a big money saver. Use a refillable water bottle to save on plastic bottles and to encourage your child to drink more water. Opt for a reusable and washable lunch box instead of paper bags and consider reusable utensils instead of throwaways. Make it fun to decorate a simple lunch bag or backpack with stickers or patches. If last year's clothes don't fit anymore, don't throw them away, hand them down to the little ones, donate or recycle them.

Back-to-school time can be stressful for parents but remember, it's also a big step for children. Go over safety tips with them to make it a secure, enjoyable new year.

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About the Author


Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.

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