(BPT) - Back-to-school shopping with a teenager can be harrowing for both parent and child. Parents must balance the function and fashion of required supplies to make returning to school fun, yet still within budget. With parents of teens spending $133.40 on average for back-to-school supplies per child, according to a recent Staples back-to-school survey, price is very important. With some careful planning, cooperative tactics and a few tips, it's possible to turn back-to-school shopping excursions into an opportunity for kids to learn smart decision-making and express themselves with designs.
As you take your teen shopping with you for back-to-school supplies, the supplies experts at Staples offer a few guidelines to help ease the process:
* Establish your budget first and make sure you plan to purchase required items - laptops for college kids, backpacks for high schoolers, etc. - first. Compare prices online to see where the best in-store deals might be. Staples offers a back-to-school 110 percent Price Match Guarantee that pledges to meet any competitor's price and give an additional 10 percent off the difference between the Staples price and the competitor price.
* Sit down with your teen to create a game plan and take him or her shopping with you. Use the shopping trip as an opportunity to help your teen build budgeting, comparison shopping and bargain-hunting skills.
* Tech tools are important for virtually every grade level. Look for products that are useful in the classroom and are age-appropriate. For example, children as young as middle school are using laptops and tablets. Students who frequently use a tablet or smartphone may appreciate the Slapband Stylus, which puts a stylus in reach as a fashionable bracelet. Check with your child's teacher to see what their requirements are and how they'll be using the technology.
* Even basics like notebooks, folders and binders can be fun and fashionable. Look for items that have character themes from your child's favorite TV shows or movies and the latest designs.
* Use stores' mobile websites, apps and online comparison-shopping sites and weekly ads to find the best prices on big-ticket items such as technology.
* It's not always possible to tote everything a college student needs to the dorm before classes start. Look for stores that make it easy to ship additional necessities, even after school begins. Staples' in-store shipping centers not only have all the packing materials you'll need, they can ship by UPS or United States Post.
* Try to avoid last-minute shopping. Waiting until the last minute to make necessary purchases can make you feel rushed and tempted to overspend. Shop early to give yourself plenty of time to compare prices, features and styles so you can be sure to get the best price and the most fashionable option available.
For more great back-to-school ideas and popular products, visit www.staples.com/back-to-school-center.