Expert gives smart saving tips on back-to-school shopping

It's hard to believe that the back-to-school shopping and spending frenzy is underway.

"It's never too late. There are all kinds of places one can find great deals on school supplies. Whether it's sales, shopping out, or online," said Professor Shooshan Danagaoulian, associate professor of economics at Wayne State University.

Some families might already be done dishing out for this school year. For those still looking to save, grab a pen and a pad and take note.

"We all know the day after Valentine's Day, candy and chocolates are one sale. So it’s not necessarily true that starting early and shopping early is going to get you the best deals. Sometimes, waiting until just after the start of the school year gets you more savings," Danagaoulian said.

Families shopping for back-to-school on average are expected to spend $890 this year on school supplies, give or take. Professor Danagoulian said we can blame inflation for that.

"They’re going to be hurting from all the prices going up not necessarily just back-to-school prices going up," Danagoulian said.  "Households are facing a really tough choice. Nowadays, more and more children need electronics to do well in school." 

That said, not all districts can afford tablets for every student, leaving parents and teachers to pay the price.  Add clothes and shoes. and the dollars add up, Danagoulian said.

As for college, that number’s even higher, coming in at just over $1,300. 

"When we go to secondary school our textbooks are generally provided to us for free. When you go to college, not so," she said. "Each one of those textbooks can very quickly add up."

Sometimes shoppers can save more money when getting supplies online as opposed to in-store, she said.

"On some search engines, you can type in a product, and it will automatically bring you 10 different sellers of the same product, in which case you can instantaneously choose the lowest price," she said.

When it comes to "smart spending", here are some tips.

1. Separate the needs from the wants (negotiate with your child which of the wants would make their year really great)
2. Involve your kids in budgeting
3. Don’t shop all at once (you might see better deals after Labor Day)
4. Shop secondhand.