Julie Smoragiewicz and her two sons Tyler and Tony sit around a kitchen tabletop to devise a plan to get all their back to school gear on the cheap.
"In the economic conditions that we're in, it's important to stretch those dollars just as much as you can," Smoragiewicz said.
According to a National Retail Federation survey people spent around $55 billion on back to school items last year, making it the nations second largest consumer spending event, behind the winter holiday season.
The frenzied spending is one reason why Smoragiewicz does her best to cut costs.
"Checking the paper, checking on-line, you know, watching other ads that you hear on the television or radio, and then just trying to make sure that you make your dollar stretch as far as you can when it comes to buying all those new things," Smoragiewicz said.
Besides couponing and looking for deals Smoragiewicz' son Tyler cans food to take back to college.
"It saves us money, that's probably the most important thing," Tyler said.
Both Tyler and his younger brother Tony agree it's important to take an inventory on items they already have and to buy in bulk to save money, but they disagree on whether it's better to shop early to get what you need, or wait until Labor Day for the big sales.
"The last time we waited until the end, there wasn't much of a variety of stuff, and we were kind of left with what everybody else didn't want," Tony said.
"When I know what I need for the class, then I actually go and get it, so I don't end up getting too much or too little," Tyler said.
But no matter which method works better, Smoragiewicz says she's just happy her kids are conscious consumers.
"If you can instill that in your children, it just helps them down the road," Smoragiewicz said.