Back To School Shopping Tips It may seem like summer and its days of sleeping in just got started, but many parents are already on the lookout for cost-savings opportunities for back to school shopping. The National Retail Federation, as reported by Bankrate.com, says that back to school supplies cost $670 on average for one child each year. That's a hefty price tag. However, there are multiple ways families can reduce these costs and still send their child to school with everything he or she needs to succeed. Start with What You Have You don't have to replace an entire wardrobe each year. Scissors don't automatically become dull on June 1st. One of the most important steps for parents to take is to do inventory. Look at available clothing, school supplies, backpacks, and lunch boxes. If an item is in good condition and still usable, there's no reason not to reuse it. Look for What You Actually Need Some parents start school shopping before they get a list of necessary supplies or know the dress code. That's a mistake. Instead, make it a point to learn what is actually needed even if you have to contact your child's teacher to find out. This saves you money while also reducing the amount of time you spend buying the wrong color notebook or shoes that don't have the right sole. Set a Budget How much you spend should start with a budget. Use your credit union statement to determine how much you spent last year or how much flexible room you have. If you do need to "make room" in your budget for these expenses, work with financial consultants to determine if you can refinance loans or consolidate debts to save. Find Out What's Available Online You don't have to shop just at your local retailer. You may be able to find discounts and sales online. Look at various options including large online retailers, auction sites like eBay, and even using bargain sites like DealNews to find special offers. Comparison shopping saves money. Buy in Bulk, Sometimes When you can pick up a case of loose leaf paper for the same amount it costs to buy a few packs, it makes sense to do so. Buying useful, needed items in a large supply will save you money especially for items you'll go through over the course of the year. Another way to make bulk purchases work for you is to donate them to the classroom or purchase them with a group of parents who will split the cost and access. This can help you to reduce costs overall. Buy Throughout the Year Don't limit yourself to back to school shopping only during the month prior to school getting back into session. You may spend more shopping during that month because retailers raise prices. Rather, you'll want to shop deals throughout the year, especially on clothing. This year, when your kids go back to school, you can ensure they look good while still meeting your budget goals. Plan in advance and always be on the lookout for supplies that can save you money.