Need vs. want: First test of school year is what to buy
Feature articles and ads are a shopping resource. Find school supply or clothing trends, ideas and deals in recent issues -- including store insert sections.
Look for news that affects schools, such as reports on teacher contracts, fuel costs and cafeteria food prices.
In addition to reading what adults say, check out comments from students on any topic in reader forums, article quotes and a weekly teen page or section if the paper has one.
At a time when rising food and gas prices pinch many families' finances, shopping for school wardrobes and supplies can be a challenge. Seventy-one percent of Americans with school-age children plan to spend less on back-to-school gear this season, according to a survey by the Deloitte consulting firm. Cost-cutting strategies include hitting sales, shopping online, setting a budget and avoiding optional luxuries.
Still, the tab can climb for students who want fresh fashions and electronics. Just in time for the second-biggest shopping season after Christmas, several major mobile phone companies introduced sleek, youth-oriented devices with cameras, music players and expanded memory. A market research firm called Nielsen Mobile says 46 percent of U.S. "tweens" (age 8-12) and 80 percent of teens (13-17) use a mobile phone. It predicts this will be the biggest back-to-school season yet for cellular sales.
In households with spending concerns, school shopping is a learning opportunity as parents talk about budgeting, credit and the difference between wants and needs. "You look for rebates. You look for coupons. You look for discounts. You look for sales," says Mary Frances McLoryd, a suburban New York mom.
Financial adviser says: "The most important strategy for back-to-school shopping is to set a budget and stick to it. With proper planning, you can prepare for another school year without breaking the bank." -- Cate Williams, vice president of Money Management International, a credit counseling agency
Retail researcher says: "For kids today, mobile phones have become just as much a part of their daily school life as pens and pencils. Going back to school without a phone is unthinkable for many young people, who consider it their lifeline." - James Russo, vice president of Nielsen Mobile
Parent says: "Like my children, I watch the weeks of leisure dwindle with regret. Shopping trips are full of reminders -- the back-to-school sales signs and supply displays can plunge the kids into depression, and I'm not immune." -- Sara Pagones, New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial page editor
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