(WTNH) – As we near the end of summer, parents are starting to think about the coming school year, which means shopping for their kids to return to school.

Millions of students heading back to school mean a lot of trips to the store for school supplies. The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend more than $41 billion on back-to-school shopping this year, which is a record high.

So what’s the best way to save money on books, pencils, and laptops? Kimberly Palmer with NerdWallet has some tips.

“The best time to start your back-to-school shopping is as soon as you get the supply list from your teacher or school. In general, with back-to-school shopping, the sooner you start, the better deals you can find,” Palmer said.

Palmer says buying things that aren’t on kids’ supply lists is tempting, but she says it’s often unnecessary.

“You really wanted to try to stick with the items that the teachers suggest because they really know best. They know what your child needs for the school year,” Palmer said.

Experts say there are easy ways to look for better deals, such as websites and browser extension tools that can help you compare prices. Price match policies can also be a good way to save.

“With price matching policies, you have about two weeks to track prices and to see if the price drop for the item that you purchased, and if it did, you can bring back your receipt and get a partial refund,” Palmer said.

Another tip is to work with other parents to buy supplies in bulk and then share the cost.

It’s also recommended that parents talk to their child’s teacher and see if any items on the supply list won’t be needed until later in the year. You might be able to buy those items when the holiday shopping starts and save some money.