NEWPORT — School may be different this year but school supplies will still be needed. With a little planning you can shop smart and spend less.

Make a list of everything needed by each child. Estimate how much you can afford to purchase during each pay period. Inventory last year’s supplies to see what is still usable for the needed list.

Support your local businesses when possible. Some stores offer curb-side service for pickup.

Look for coupons and sales at stores, online and in apps. When shopping in stores try to go during less busy times and use precautions around others. Check with the store on their return policies during COVID-19 and for trying on clothes.

When shopping online, take precautions to keep personal information secure. Use a credit card or PayPal instead of using your debit card for purchases. Make sure you are purchasing from reputable dealers, and know the shipping time before placing the order since some are taking weeks or months to fill orders. Check for a picture of a closed lock in the browser to make sure you are on a secure site.

If strapped for cash, trying shopping thrift stores, garage sales and online swap shops. Buy in bulk with friends to avoid shipping fees and to take advantages of discounts. As you shop, track your spending, stick to your list and avoid impulse purchases.

Allow yourself and your child enough time to shop and enjoy the experience. Try to make this time as normal as possible for you both. This will help lower your anxiety and stress levels. Stay as positive as possible to give your child a sense of excitement instead of dread.

If you have questions or need more information, call the Jackson County Extension Office at 870-523-7450.