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4 Genius Tips to Save on School Supplies

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As summer starts to wind down and the new school year fast approaches, so does the all-too-familiar stress of back-to-school shopping. New backpacks, trendy clothing, snazzy binders, bento lunch boxes—not only can all the choices be overwhelming, but they also add up quickly. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best ways you can save money and keep your cool while picking up school essentials for your kids.

1. Make a shopping list and set a budget

The first step is to determine what your kids actually need—and don’t need—for the new school year. Work together to create a list of all the supplies that are essential, as well as those that are just ‘wants.’ To get started, review the school supply list your kid’s teacher provided and check out our printable school supplies checklist. From there, think about how your budget lines up with the list. Prioritize the essentials, of course; then you can start adding items from the optional list. Kids can even help budget if they have some loonies and toonies stashed away in their piggy banks—it’s a great way to teach them about the value of money!

2. Do an inventory sweep

Before you start making any actual purchases, do a sweep of your house. Check through your closets, storage bins, your art supplies and even last year’s school bags for extra supplies you may have laying around. It’s a great idea to reuse and recycle what you already have before buying new supplies. With all the treasures you find, consider spending the dying days of summer on some DIYs with the kids. Fish pencil cases, watermelon T-shirts, paint-splattered sneakers—the possibilities are endless. Click here for ideas and instructions.

3. Swap with friends

Illustration of a happy mom with her kids next to her packing their lunches I tried getting my kids to pack their own school lunches: A diaryYou’re done your inventory sweep—but don’t rush off to the mall just yet. Instead, head to the houses of your neighbors and friends. While this may seem unusual, planning a swap party with other parents can prevent plenty of waste. Gather the items you have and know your kids won’t use and trade with other parents who might have the supplies you’re looking for. Friends, neighbors and even family members may also have clothing that doesn’t fit their kids anymore but would be perfect on yours. Think of it as a swapping shopping spree!

4. Shop the sales

Once you’ve exhausted all your recycling efforts, it’s time to hit the shops—but don’t just make impromptu trips to the closest stores. Instead, be prepared for those inventible back-to-school deals and do your research to know which ones are really worth your while. Look through flyers, peruse their websites and keep an eye on key social media feeds— a little bit of prep work can save loads of dollars!

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