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Ten Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping - How to Save Big on Supplies This Year

It's the time of year that parents love and kids loathe!

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It's that time of year that parents love and kids loathe: Back to School. That, of course, means shopping trips to stock up on necessary supplies. The first day of school is fast approaching!  No matter what, this is the time of year to shop.  

There is nothing like shopping for that special fist day of school outfit.  Those pictures will live on forever!   Those sparkling new sneakers that are just waiting to run and have fun. Other must haves may include a trendy backpack and the hot accessories to decorate it. The array of choices in the children's department can be intimidating, especially when your little fashion plate claims she needs everything.  

On average, parents will spend about $635 on back-to-school items per family for K-12 students (down from $688 last year) and $836 for college students (down from $907 last year) on supplies and apparel, according to the National Retail Federation

That's a hefty tab after a summer of spending on camps and vacations. A smart spending strategy can help you stick to a back-to-school budget. Here are 10 tips for parents of younger kids on how to survive the fall ritual without going broke.

  • Start at home 
    Before you head out, go through all your children's clothes and school supplies left over from last year. You'll likely find you may need less than you think.
  • Set a budget 
    Determine how much you can spend, and share the details with your kids. Showing them how to shop and sticking to a budget is a great personal finance lesson.
  • Be app savvy 
    Check in at a store on your phone with FourSquare, ShopKick, and Yelp. You'll receive coupons and freebies just for checking in on these apps.
  • Brand new might not be best 
    Imagine getting a name-brand laptop for under $200, sports equipment, or a musical instrument for 60% off the list price. Take advantage of yard sales and scout for bargains on eBay or Craigslist.
  • Buy last year's electronics 
    Purchasing the second-newest model of a laptop or tablet can yield savings of 25% or more and will suffice for most students' needs. 
  • Hit the warehouse stores 
    Warehouse clubs like Costco and BJ's often offer great deals on electronics. They're also a great source of generic supplies, but who needs 200 pencils? Connect with a neighbor or friend to split the cost and take home a more manageable bounty.
  • Use credit reward cards 
    This is a great time to start cashing in some of those rewards you've been collecting. Check out your balance, and visit the rewards website to convert them to cash or gift cards that could help pay for supplies.
  • Say no thanks to new credit cards 
    Don't sign up for a new card just to get a one-time discount. Applying for a new card can ding your credit score.
  • Check coupon sites 
    Combine sales and coupons to maximize savings. Follow your favorite retailers on Facebook or Twitter for additional coupons.
  • Price match 
    Stores are now price matching competitors. Just because you're in a discount retail store doesn't mean you're getting the best price, see what others have and ask their competitor to match it.
  • Save some shopping for September 
    Stock up on all the supplies your kids will need for their first day of school, but hold off on items they may not need until later in the year. Retailers drop prices in September, once the back-to-school rush has passed.

How do you deal with Back-to-School shopping?  Tell is in the comments below.