As parents get ready to drop hundreds of dollars on school supplies, retail experts say it's important to get schooled in finding the best deal. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following "Money Matters report.
From notebooks and footwear - even laptops - back to school shopping can be costly. According to the National Retail Federation, families with kids in grades k-12 will likely spend an average of $688 this year. Bump that up to $907 if they have kids in college.
However, there are ways to reduce that price tag or at the very least stretch those dollars a little further.
Let's start with comparison shopping, much of which can be done online.
"Next Tag, Price Grabber, sources like that online are really helpful to find the best deal," points out RetailMeNot.com Insider Magazine Senior Editor Trae Bodge. "There's also a real cool add-on app called InvisibleHand that while you are shopping at different retailers, a little bar comes across the top of your screen that says, 'We found this cheaper someplace else.'"
Next, be sure to look for coupons, especially on items like clothing and shoes. Bodge says a quick search for coupon codes could save a ton of money.
"I actually found one yesterday for LandsEnd.com, which was 30 percent off site-wide and they are actually one of my favorite resources for backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles," says Bodge.
So what about all those small ticket items like notebooks and pens which can also add up to big bucks? The key is to search the circulars and buy in bulk. Office supplies are one case where more is often less.
"If you buy three of the same item, you instantly get savings. You don't need three? Team up with another couple of families who might need one too. Big warehouse clubs who will offer savings but you have to buy a lot more than you can use, go in together with a few families and split it up," says Lozo.com CEO and Money Saving Expert Jeff Kaplan.
Finally, dorm room decor has become a category all its own -- and an expensive one at that. Experts say the key is to stick to the essentials, go generic and resist the urge to buy everything brand new.
"Look for sites like Craigslist and Freecycle where you can get used furniture cheap or even free," suggests Kaplan. "Go to stores that have maybe second hand or used items or factory rejects that look perfectly good in a dorm room, will hold up well through the years and cost a lot less."