(WXYZ) — We're continuing to get you and your kids ready to head back to school, and we know there's a lot to buy.
From backpacks to Chromebooks, school supplies and clothes, the National Retail Federation estimates families will spend around $864 on school supplies this year.
College students and their families plan to spend an average of $1,199 for the upcoming semester. So, how do you not break the bank? Here are the top five ways to save on back-to-school shopping from an expert.
Kristin McGrath, the editor of The Real Deal blog for RetailMeNot, said the number one tip she has to go in with a coupon of some kind.
1. Check for promo codes and coupons
McGrath said to check for promo codes and coupons before you start buying so you'll know where you want to shop first.
"Whether that is a promo code that you're using online or an in-store coupon that you're using in person or a barcode that you're showing on your phone — anything to take that total down," McGrath explained.
2. Sign up for retailers' rewards programs
Some of those rewards programs allow you to earn points or money back to apply towards future purchases.
“We've seen some retailers this year offering special promo codes and deals that are only valid for their rewards club members. So, it's really important to make sure you're getting all the savings that are coming to you," McGrath said.
3. Review weekly ads and gift cards with purchase offers
Many retailers offer a weekly ad either in-store or online. Read that first before you shop.
She said retailers often offfer gift card-with-purchase offers where you can buy items on your list then get a gift card for a certain amount that you can use in that store later.
Target offers a free $15 gift card when you spend $50 on select household essentials.
Just make sure you need the item so you're not wasting your money.
"Don't use these offers as an excuse to overspend. Be very tactical about it," said McGrath.
4. Utilize cash-back shopping
RetailMeNot features hundreds of offers from dozens of retailers, or you can sign up direct with your favorite stores.
Even if it's 1% back on everything you purchase, that can add up over time at the stores you visit a lot.
5. Wait for Labor Day deals to buy most of the clothes
"Retailers know that people are out shopping and they want to offload a lot of that warmer weather stuff to make way for fall and winter," McGrath said.
There are usually even bigger clearance deals after Labor Day. So, if you can wait that long, it will really pay off.
The bottom line – stores are competing for your business right now, and they know many people have been struggling with high grocery and gas bills. So, the deals are out there if you look.