5 tips to help you save on back-to-school shopping

BALTIMORE - The back-to-school shopping season is already underway! Here are five ways you can save money and still make the grade on back-to-school purchases:

-          Shop for bulk items: Buying highly used items like pencils and pens in larger quantities from stores like Sam's Club or Costco can save you major bucks. Many of the items that students need run out before the end of the school year so having extra on hand will save you money and an extra trip to the store.

-           Go to outlet malls: If you're able to devote a day at the outlet malls you may be able to find many of the designer clothes and other items you're looking for at a reduced cost. You can save up to 70 percent off the retail price on many items.

-          Take advantage of student discounts: Many retailers are offering student discounts on big ticket items like laptop computers and e-book readers. Check online and compare deals to see what discounts are available. 

-          Swap back-to-school items:  Host a back-to-school swap with other parents. At the party swap school supplies or clothing you may not need anymore.  You may find new items you need for you student and can get some items off your hands that you aren't using. Remember something you may not use someone else may need.

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-          Shop online retailers like eBay:  EBay and other online retailers like Amazon.com are great place to find back to school clothing, electronics and other essentials for the season. Be sure to find sellers that have high user ratings and check to see if they offer free or reduced shipping on items.

There will be a big push by retailers to get you to spend money in their stores. Back-to-school shopping is one of the major shopping seasons behind the December holidays. In Maryland starting Sunday and continuing through Aug. 18, purchases of qualifying clothes and shoes for $100 or less are exempt from the state's 6 percent sales tax.

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