Back-to-school 2016: Top 5 money-saving shopping tips

The first day of school in Palm Beach County is less than two weeks away.

If you are on the hunt for back-to-school bargains, consider these money-saving tips from Kyle James, founder of the coupon website Rather-Be-Shopping.com. The site offers shopping tips, promotion codes, and alerts when new online coupons are available at stores you frequently visit.

Shop at home first.MT-1A_SCHOOL SUPPLIES.JPG

“The first thing I always recommend is to pull out your child’s backpack and shop the backpack first,” James said.

Your child may still be able to use some of last year’s supplies, and that will save you money when you shop for this year’s items, James said.

“In many cases, a lot of the stuff is still in pretty decent shape,” he said.

Don’t do all your shopping at one store.

“Never walk in to one store and buy everything,” James warns. “You are going to get some things on sale, but inevitability you are going to pay full price on some stuff.”

James recommends parents look through the sale advertisements before hitting the stores. Pay close attention to office supply ads, he says, because those stores often have rock-bottom prices on a few items every week.

BlackFridayadsLook for stores that price match.

Gather up sale ads for big box chains and office supply retailers before you head out to do your shopping. If you see an item advertised for less at another store, ask the manager to match the sale price, James said.

“That is really the best way to save,” James said.

Stay away from backpacks with characters on them.

Backpacks with cartoon characters on them typically cost about 20 to 30 percent more than non-character ones.

Instead, James recommends buying a plain backpack and letting your child decorate it.

“A lot of times, kids want the characters,” James said. “I always recommend buying stickers and letting your kids decorate them.”

Laura Palacio, 13, of West Palm Beach, tries on a backpack that she likes with her sister Mayra Palacio, at the Target on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., July 30, 2014, in West Palm Beach. Laura chose the back to school supplies that she needs for the upcoming year and plans to come back and buy them when the tax free holiday begins Friday. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Laura Palacio, 13, of West Palm Beach, tries on a backpack that she likes with her sister Mayra Palacio, at the Target on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., July 30, 2014, in West Palm Beach. Laura chose the back to school supplies that she needs for the upcoming year and plans to come back and buy them when the tax free holiday begins Friday. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Leave your children at home when you shop.

Many times, kids will ask for more expensive items, or items that may not be needed until later in the school year, James said.

“You end up spending more than you would have,” James said.