Consumer experts say plan a shopping strategy for entire school year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Back-to-school shoppers will be out in full force taking advantage of Missouri's tax-free weekend this Friday through Sunday.  

The National Retail Federation reports parents spent on average $688 for back-to-school supplies for their kids last year.  That just covers the cost of getting kids back into the classroom in the fall.  What about all those extra expenses that quickly add up throughout the year? 

Jana Castanon is a consumer credit counselor with the nonprofit group Apprisen .  She recommends coming up with a spending plan for the entire school year.

First, write down and total up all expected expenses during the school year.   Include extra-curricular activities, field trips, pictures and dances.  If the dollar amount is too high, consider limiting the number of activities.  

Next, set up an account where you put money each pay check to cover the expense when it happens.

When it comes to special events like dances, set a certain amount you're willing to pay and let your child decide how that money should be spent.

"People are spending over $700 on average for senior prom," Castanon said.  "Is that within your budget?  If it is not, create a budget for that and then let that child prioritize how that money will be spent."

With back-to-school shopping, Castanon recommends checking out your left over supplies from the previous school year.  Figure out what you need right now and what supplies can wait.  Take advantage of the upcoming tax-free weekend.

In Missouri, there will be no sales tax on clothing, school supplies and computers.  The tax-free weekend runs from Friday through Sunday.

The Missouri Department of Revenue has additional information, including the cities that participate.

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