Take advantage of tax-free weekends. Ten states offer this shopping perk: During one weekend in August, back-to-school items, like backpacks and footwear, are tax-free. (For a list of participating locales, go to taxadmin.org.)
Wait for discounts. Big markdowns on clothing, electronics, and shoes typically occur in mid-August. The reward for your patience? Savings of 40 to 50 percent in stores and 20 to 25 percent with online retailers.
Buy a backpack with a warranty. Book bags take a beating, so buy your child’s backpack from a reputable company, such as L.L. Bean, REI, or the North Face, that guarantees its merchandise. If a zipper breaks, the company will replace the backpack at no charge or it may give you your money back.
Ask for a student discount on software. Flash a valid K–12 or college ID at tech stores or send a copy via e-mail or fax to sites like academicsuperstore.com or journeyed.com and you could get up to 80 percent off your purchase.
Buy school supplies at warehouse or big-box retailers. The prices will be much lower than at supermarkets and drugstores.