Don't buy this, buy that: Saving big on back-to-school 2010 purchases

back to school shopping, backpacks, consumers, back to school
back to school shopping, backpacks, consumers, back to school

As back to school shopping heads for the home stretch, this frugal father of a boy in pre-K and girl in second grade wanted to alert you to a few larger-ticket items that you might be overspending on, and provide you with some money-saving alternatives.

Backpacks

Buy this:Camo and Pink Camo Backpacks ($13.50 to $14.99)
Not that:
LL Bean Deluxe Book Pack ($31.96)

The rate at which backpacks get stepped on, torn from lugging too much weight, or lost has put me into the cheapo corner on this decision. Spare your children the fancy and let them have fun browsing at your local Army Navy Surplus store. The backpacks are up to 50% less expensive and just as tough and ergonomically sound as long as no one's packing for a week's vacation. Plus they're cool. I've never heard a third-grader say, "Wow, you got that at LL Bean?!!" As for the backpacks on rollers (an ungodly $63.96), they encourage over stuffing, are dangerous on stairs, and they'll make your kids look like pint-sized flight attendants. (One WalletPopper with middle-school kids informs us that backpacks on wheels are terminally un-cool.)