Printer Friendly

LORD OF THE THREE-RINGS SAVVY CHOICES CAN MEAN BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAVINGS.

Byline: Valerie Kuklenski Staff Writer

It's easy for parents to blow a paycheck on school supplies, more so if the kids are excited while bouncing among the bins of pencils, markers and folders. But with gas for the carpool nearing $3.50 a gallon, now is the time to shop wisely for these goods.

``I think this year people are going to be looking more for price,'' said Carol Martin, a veteran fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Woodcrest School in Tarzana.

A recent study by the National Retail Federation says the average family will spend $527.08 this year on back-to-school purchases, much of it for electronics and apparel, up from $443.77 last year. An estimated $86 of it goes toward the sorts of supplies today's parents grew up with. At the same time, the latest Experian/Gallup Personal Credit Index -- a measure of consumer credit perceptions -- is at 84, 14 points lower than in August 2005, indicating shoppers want to curtail their spending.

``I would prefer to (save money),'' said Susan Burke of Woodland Hills as she shopped in Target last week for supplies for son James, 15. ``That's why I'm down here at the $1.97 notebooks. But my son's got to have something durable.''

Martin said the sale discounts at stores such as Staples and Office Depot have been especially good this year.

``I've noticed things cheaper than I've ever seen before. We got boxes of colored pencils for 10 cents each, glue for 9 cents.''

For parents about to hit the stores, here's a checklist for getting in and out of the back-to-school department without breaking into the college tuition account:

Does your child really need all new stuff? Take inventory of what remains from last year. The old scissors, colored pencils and ruler are probably just fine.

Start with the basics -- pens, pencils, paper, binder and book bag. On the first day of school, teachers may have specific requirements for colors of pens, size of index cards, minimum pages in a spiral notebook or spine size on a binder, so it might be best to keep it to a minimum until you know the teacher's needs.

When choosing a backpack, consider not only what it needs to hold but also where it must be stashed. School Web sites sometimes give interior locker dimensions. Make sure it's a fit when fully loaded, with strong seams to tote those texts for more than a month.

If your student wants a rolling backpack (sometimes pain-free portage trumps hipness), skip the bargain-basement ones and go for a sturdier model. If it's bumping up and down stairs or over curbs on a regular basis, the cheap version won't survive past Halloween.

A three-ring binder is only as durable as the hardware inside, so if the rings are being opened and closed regularly, a standard vinyl one with a couple of inside pockets (easily replaced at any time of the year) may be more practical than a pricier padded nylon version with a shoulder strap and more pockets than a safari vest.

Function beats form when it comes to calculators. A kid may crave a gimmicky gadget that rolls up or clips on a backpack, but if it doesn't have, say, the trigonometry functions the teacher requires, it's no good.

Kids who are not social butterflies may not need all the minutes of talk time in common cellular phone contracts. Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile are two providers offering pay- as-you-go packages for phones that are priced as low as $49.99.

Considering replacing a student's computer? The old one may endure another year with a fresh keyboard and mouse, upgraded memory and up-to-date software. If you believe a replacement is in order, don't just toss the old model. Many charities accept donated electronics, which means a tax deduction for you. Or look into giving it to your school. Some will make use of its components to rejuvenate classroom computers.

Valerie Kuklenski, (818) 713-3750

valerie.kuklenski(at)dailynews.com

Smart students' high-tech secrets

If you still have spending cash and are inclined to shop the high-tech aisles, here are some interesting, useful items to consider:

Some teachers insist on an electronic dictionary that presents word choices from the first few letters input by the user. The Franklin Talking Electronic Dictionary and Spell Corrector pronounces the words for grade-schoolers' phonics training, and the phonetic spelling corrector adapts even the most outrageous wild guesses into their proper forms. $59.95.

The d-skin disc protector is a thin clear film that snaps with a bright orange ring to the data side of a CD, DVD or CD-ROM, protecting it from scratches and smudges. It's easily removed, but the disc functions normally with the d-skin in place. At about $1 per skin, it may not be worth protecting every CD and DVD in the family library, but it can prolong the life of favorite Playstation or Xbox games or high-priced computer software discs. $5.99 for five, $19.99 for 20, $45.99 for 50.

The Logitech io2 Digital Writing System is useful for a high-school or college student whose note-taking involves words, numbers, graphs and diagrams. Use it like a pen on paper, up to 40 pages at a time, and its tiny camera and optical sensor record the pen's movements and digitize the writing and images for download to a computer. They say it works for History of Western Civilization, Calculus or ``Kilroy was here'' doodles. $199.99.

-- V.K.

Research it online

Solid research is the key when shopping for electronics, and Consumer Reports has done it for you on a wide range of products. The links for comparison charts on computers, printers, cell phones and music players are at www.consumerreports.org/backtoschool. The site and the magazine accept no advertising, so online readers must pay for the information. You can subscribe to the site for $4.95 per month and cancel at any time.

CAPTION(S):

5 photos, 3 boxes

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) A+ for savings

The smart way to shop for school supplies

(2 -- 4 -- color) no caption (school supplies)

Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer

(5 -- color) no caption (girl with books and apple on her head)

Photo courtesy of T.J. Maxx

Box:

(1) Smart students' high-tech secrets (see text)

(2) Research it online (see text)

(3) Shop latee, save big

-- Contra Costa Times
COPYRIGHT 2006 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 17, 2006
Words:1067
Previous Article:LAKERS: PANAGGIO TO LEAD D-LEAGUE SQUAD.
Next Article:CALIFORNIA, HERE THEY COME LARGE CAST OF YOUNG PERFORMERS TO PRESENT MUSICAL ABOUT GOLDEN STATE`S HISTORY.


Related Articles
BUSH WIN MEANS VICTORY FOR EDUCATION CABINET PICKS, SUPREME COURT PROSPECTS BODE WELL FOR REFORMS.
Harry Potter, Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings.
From isolation to community: Frodo's incomplete personal quest in The Lord of the Rings.
READY, SET, ACTION FIGURES IN WORLD OF WRESTLING TOYS FOR BOYS, HE'S CHAMPION.
Easy money.
Editorial.
Feudal values, vassalage, and fealty in The Lord of the Rings.
Through a dark lens: Jackson's Lord of the Rings as abject horror.
The monstrosity of the gaze: critical problems with a film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters