5 tips for getting ready for back to school this year

(BPT) - Parents look forward to it, but kids might not — the time when families everywhere start thinking about going back to school. As savvy parents know, starting early can mean a less stressful transition.

Unfortunately, a new study finds parents facing a more costly back-to-school shopping season this year. The survey, conducted by KPMG, found that parents may pay as much as $268 per student for school supplies and clothes, compared to $247 last year. With masks and hand sanitizer on the shopping list, budgets may be even higher.

So how can you make sure your kids have what they need without breaking the bank? Here are some tips for back-to-school shopping that can help you stress less — and spend less — this summer.

1. Make your list and check it twice

Check out your school’s supplies list as soon as it’s available. While you can use last year’s list as a starting point, it will likely be different this year. Check your school district website to see when they're available.

Take inventory of items you already have. No need to keep buying more rulers! And if that box of colored pencils was barely cracked open last year, don’t buy a new one. Let kids pick out something new (and small) that they like to prevent complaints about reusing supplies.

2. Scout the deals

Check to see which of the items on your shopping list are the most expensive, like a new backpack or graphing calculator. Compare prices on your favorite stores’ websites to find the best offers and take advantage of cash back apps and loyalty programs that may provide additional savings.

3. Get shopping rewards

You can use the Ibotta Browser Extension to earn cash back when back-to-school shopping online at hundreds of retailers. And you can add the extension to your Chrome or Firefox browser to earn 500+ exclusive offers.

"We want to to help make sure every child goes back to school with everything they need to succeed," said Bryan Leach, CEO and founder of Ibotta. "Getting cash back rewards during the back-to-school season can help ease the shopping burden for teachers and families alike."

4. Shop online if you can

Shopping online means not only less rushing around, but also keeping your kids from getting distracted by all the shiny things on the shelves. You can choose to have items shipped, delivered or picked up curbside. Don’t forget to look for retailers that offer free shipping to further save on costs.

5. Shop alone when possible

If you do need to shop in-store, try to go without the kids. If you need to bring them along, try allowing each kid to pick just one item for themselves (like a lunchbox or backpack), to avoid overspending at the store.

Shop when it's less likely to be crowded, and when you feel your best — not when you’re tired, rushed or hungry (same goes for the kids). You’ll feel better, and you'll be less likely to give in to those impulse buys.

With these tips and a little planning, you can conquer the back-to-school shopping season with less stress — while saving time and money, too.

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