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Walmart's 'Back to School savings challenge'
Sep '08
Parents across the country have found both practical and creative ways to manage their back to school budgets this year as revealed on Walmart's micro site.

Not only did 75 percent of responders to the site's informal poll reveal they would start shopping earlier for back to school, but the submissions and tips parents entered in the "Back to School Savings Challenge" show more time is being spent on planning before consumers ever hit the stores, from starting neighborhood sharing programs to detailed internet research.

Top ideas and stories are listed on the site. Overall, ideas submitted by parents include very similar trends.

Many parents are now:
• Taking school supply and clothing inventory at home before making a trip;
• Shopping at stores that fit the "one-stop-shop" model to save time and gas;
• Shopping with a list (beyond the school supply list) to avoid additional spending;
• Researching the best back-to-school offerings online before going to the store;
• Taking the opportunity to teach kids the value of a dollar by including them in spending decisions and reasoning.

"Because the average household can spend more than $500 to prepare for back to school, it's no surprise parents have used this season to put new money management programs in place which may also be relevant and helpful for the approaching holiday season," said Ellie Kay, author of Living Rich for Less and known, through her personal finance services, as America's Family Financial Expert.

As financial contributor to the site, Ellie Kay selected three unique stories for others to learn from as a part of the challenge.

From the hundreds of stories submitted, the three finalists' stories will be posted to the MakeYourDollarStretch.com and each will receive $600 in Walmart Gift Cards, essentially "reimbursing" them for the average back to school spend. Consumers can vote for their favorite savings story on the site through Sept. 7.

Tips and excerpts from the finalist stories include:
• From Brenda in Ohio
"Stocking up on our college student's food tab is affordable when we buy a little extra on each grocery trip and put aside some for her ... Saving money comes from the attitude that college costs can be spread out rather than a major one month only outlay."

• From Sarah in Virginia
"Online shopping is my tip for saving a little this Back to School season. It saves you some gas money. You're not being rushed by the kids, so you are less likely to just grab whatever and therefore overspend."

• Heather in Georgia
"Our main focus is to keep a list and regularly check for deals even when you are doing regular shopping each week. We also will allow for a 'splurge' item that may cost a little more (but is still on sale) just so the kids have something special for back to school."

Wal-Mart Stores Inc

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