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5 Ways to Get Smart About Back-to-School Shopping

From school supplies to dorm essentials, stocking up on supplies for a new school year can strain any budget. Consider these simple back-to-school shopping tips to help you plan smart and cut costs:

1. Set a budget and stick to it. Determine how much money you can spend, then evaluate needs versus wants. Review supply lists before heading to the store and note what you already have. Include your kids in the process for a valuable lesson about budgeting.

2. Seek out the deals. Buy a Sunday paper to check weekly ads for the best savings and clip any school-supply coupons. Another idea: Follow your favorite stores on social media to keep up with deals, or use a free app like RetailMeNot to find store-specific coupons.

3. Shop tax-free. Some states offer tax-free holidays during back-to-school season. See if your state participates.

4. Stock up in the off season. Many retailers mark down school supplies weeks after back-to-school shopping peaks. Score deals on trendy, must-have items for this year and stock up on basics like glue and paper for upcoming years.

5. If you're shopping online, make sure to use secure, reliable websites with "https" and a padlock symbol in the address bar. Pay with your credit card instead of debit card.

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