How to save big bucks on back-to-school shopping

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Nina Pineda has the details (WABC)

The first day of school is just around the corner, which means most families are looking for back to school bargains.

But before you rush out and spend, we've got some important money-saving tips for back-to-school shoppers.

The average family with school age children will spend $634 on back to school shopping, so how can you save both cash and your sanity?

With three kids, Patricia Calle planned her shopping at an outlet mall, the Mills at Jersey Gardens, a good choice according to consumer expert Andrea Woroch. Shopping at the Elizabeth-based outlet not only helps avoid paying full retail prices, but it also takes advantage of the fact that the Garden State doesn't tax clothing at all.

"You're looking at saving tax on shoes and clothing and on other merchandise," Woroch said. "You're paying reduced tax, so you ended up paying for the trip if you have to take a taxi."

Woroch says purchasing coupon books offered at shopping centers will save even more.

"You get saving within minutes from your first shopping trip," she said. "It's definitely worth buying."

Time is also money. So before you hit the mall, download a mall map, and park near the last store where you plan to shop.

"Pre-plan your shopping route based on coupons you have," Woroch said.

By signing up for store loyalty rewards, coupons and cash-back offers will come right to your inbox. Even if you're not a member, a last-minute search in-line for online coupons codes pays off.

"So I'm pulling up an app, Coupon Sherpa, and I found 15 percent off coupon for your entire purchase," Woroch said. "All I have to do is pull up the bar code on the phone, and she's able to scan it."

If you're using plastic for back-to-school shopping, NerdWallet.com correspondent Farnoosh Torabi reminds you to use your rewards points before you lose them, and also take advantage of credit card price protection.

"Sometimes, if you find a cheaper price down the road, show that to the store manager," Torabi said. "Sometimes they'll match that price."

Remember, if you can, shop off season, while fall clothing like coats will be full price. Right now, summer staples are slashed in price.

One last tip is to shop with cash. Shoppers spend less using bills instead of swiping. So if you leave your credit card at home, you'll more likely to stick to your budget.
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