4. Have a max number in mind.
If you've gone back-to-school shopping before, then you know the drill. You go in with a plan to grab the basics, only to emerge with five sparkly unicorn folders, a brand-new Transformers lunchbox, pens you're pretty sure only high-profile bankers use and much more. Though it's great your little ones are getting excited about school, that excitement shouldn't cause you financial stress. Set a budget in your head of what you truly feel comfortable spending and stick to it. Spontaneous purchases are bound to happen (especially when shopping with children), but limit them each to one or two "special" items that fit within the budget you've set.
5. Don't ignore tax-free weekend.
We get it—shopping during tax-free weekend can be a bit of a nightmare, but it can also lead to serious discounts, especially on bigger-ticket items. If you don't fancy the idea of fighting a mob of anxious parents for simple pens and pencils with whining kids in-tow, use tax-free weekend to only focus on a few pricier purchases. For example, if your child needs a Chromebook this year, wait for tax-free weekend, and try to leave the kids at home. You'll be in and out in no time!
6. Stock up on sale supplies.
Is that ream of lined paper noticeably cheap? What about that lunchtime Tupperware? Use especially good sales and discounts to stock up on items your child will either run out of or easily lose during the year. Though it can seem like an added expense at the moment, it will most likely save you money down the road.
7. Save the non-essentials for later.
Can you guess the one sale that beats all others? It's the one that happens right after school starts. If you can identify a few things your child doesn't need right this second—can that old lunchbox or backpack last just a little longer?—it's best to save them for just a few weeks after the big rush. Many stores will be trying to clear their inventory, and the sales you see will be even bigger than the ones before school started.