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Find Deals on School Supplies

school supply expenses

Congratulations! You’ve survived the summer. But can your wallet afford the high costs of back-to-school season? A 2016 survey by the National Retail Federation found that families with school-age children planned to spend an average of $673.57 on back-to-school expenses, a 9.6 percent increase over last year.

As the seasons change, so do your children’s sizes, activities and school supplies. But, by using a few simple tips and tricks, you can get your children what they need — and maybe even what they want — without breaking the bank.

Take Inventory:

Before you hit the stores this fall, take stock of what you have. You might be surprised how many No. 2 pencils and unused notebooks you discover or how many unworn clothes you unearth from the deepest realms of your children's closets.

Host a Back-to-School Swap:

It’s safe to say you aren’t the only parent who dreads school-spending splurges. Gather a group of parents and host a back-to-school swap. From lightly used sports equipment to outgrown clothing, you can make a dent in your list and spend time with good friends.

Shop Late:

Avoid the August rush — and August prices — by skipping the crowded mall and waiting for better deals on school supplies to arrive in late September. You’ll get the same clothes at a fraction of the price.

Price Match:

Many large stores offer price-match guarantees. Bring an ad or your smartphone with you to prove a competitor’s price, and rejoice in getting the biggest discount on school supplies in town. Just remember to do your homework ahead of time. Get online and read up on store policies to make sure you’re bargain hunting at participating retailers.

Follow Your Favorite Stores:

Find your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for email Listservs to get instant access to exclusive discounts, coupons and deals on school supplies.

Save with Savvy Teacher Gifts:

You want to show teacher appreciation, but back-to-school gifts can get expensive. This year, try something a little closer to home. Freshly baked treats or a handmade gift are meaningful and memorable alternatives to costly store-bought baubles. Plus, free sites such as Pinterest have loads of “pinspiration” for you.

Stay Smart with After-School Treats:

Instead of grabbing fast food in the name of speed, try prepping a healthier, cheaper option the night before. Snacks such as carrot sticks, crackers and fresh berries are easy on your budget and more nutritious for your kids.

Don’t Forget About the Dollar Store:

Think outside the name-brand box. Because your children are growing and changing every day, dollar stores can be a great place to find discount school supplies including clothing, stationary and even snacks.

Take Advantage of Tax Breaks:

Tax-free retail weekends are a wonderful way to knock out a snazzy back-to-school outfit, but did you know many states also offer savings and deals on supplies — including computers? Find out if your state offers tax-free holidays for school supplies, and get ready save big.

Sending your kids back to school doesn’t have to be a financial hurdle you face each year. With a little planning and a few of these tips, you and your family can get ready to tackle a new school year with everything you need, including a little extra in the bank.

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the National Endowment for Financial Education.]