Hit the stores without a plan, and you could end up overspending.
"It's an important time to keep a handle on your finances because in the frenzy to get organized it's easy to make bad purchase decisions," said Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federation of America.
Here are five ways to make sure your back-to-school shopping spree stays doesn't empty your wallet:
1. MAKE A BUDGET
You know what you need, but do you know how much you can afford?
This is the key to keeping an annual shopping trip from swelling into a full-on spree.
Establish a budget that lays out how much you plan to spend on school supplies, clothing, shoes and other immediate needs. Then stick to it.
A good strategy is to begin with what you needed last year. Odds are that won't change too much from one year to the next. Items like pens, pencils and notebooks tend to be priced competitively. But resist splurging on fancy organizers, desk sets and other items you often can do without.
2. SHOP ON TAX HOLIDAYS
More than a dozen states are giving shoppers a break from paying the state sales tax on certain purchases. The sales tax holidays usually last around three days. The savings can run anywhere from 3 percent to about 7 percent.
In most cases, they apply to clothing and footwear, though typically states restrict the benefit to items that cost $100 or less. Some states also include school supplies and big-ticket items, such as computers.
"All of America loves a sale and this is a sale paid for by government," said Verenda Smith, deputy director of the Federation of Tax Administrators, an association for state tax administrators.
However, you could end up paying local sales taxes, if any.
And if you're buying online, the sales tax holidays apply only if the address where the item will be shipped is located in a state offering the sales tax break, Smith said.