[See: 10 Back-to-School Deals.]
Look for sales tax holidays. If you live in one of the 17 states that offers a holiday from sales taxes, then you can shave off a portion of your back-to-school bill by simply shopping during that period, Khalfani-Cox advises. Many states schedule their sales tax holidays in August; if you missed out this year, don't forget to mark it on your calendar for next year.
Seek out added incentives. Comparison sites such as RetailMeNot.com and PriceGrabber.com offer roundups of top sales and discounts, such as 15 percent off at Old Navy, up to 50 percent off at Macy's and 50 percent off at Sears during back-to-school season. Apple is also offering $100 gift cards for its App store with certain Mac purchases. At Amazon, college students can sign up for "Amazon Student" for free two-day shipping and referring a friend earns them an additional $5 per person.
The main lesson for parents is to dedicate at least some pre-shopping time to ferreting out the best deals – including checking up on retailers' Twitter and Facebook accounts.