SADDLE BROOK - Parents are pinching the pennies this year when it comes to back-to-school shopping.

The National Retail Federation estimates that families with school age kids will spend about $50 less on back-to-school items compared to last year.

Consumers are coping with smaller paychecks and are more deal-driven than ever.

Laura Malkowski says she is buying only the back-to-school supplies her daughter needs.

"I'm at a new position at work and my salary has gone way down, and I have to watch what I spend."

Analysts also say that consumers are spending more on big ticket items such as cars and homes than on clothing because they have more available credit.

Christine Belfi says her family just put in a pool in their backyard, so she is buying just the basics for her son.

Parents are also turning to discount stores like T.J. Maxx for their back-to-school clothes because they say they get more bang for the buck.

"If I can go and get her three pairs of shoes for almost the same price that I can buy one expensive pair of shoes, just because I get it at a discount store and they're cheaper, I'll do that," Kelly Jarquin says.

One online study says 11 percent of parents won't start shopping until after school starts.