5 tips to save on school supplies

It's back-to-school time and we all know shopping for school supplies can get pricey! We've put together a few tips to help you get the most bang for your buck before the new school year.

1. Switch up stores

Many of us shop at the school supply stores or the back to school section of big retailers like Target or Walmart.  Instead, trying switching it up. Many grocery stores have back to school sections that have cheaper products and allow you to get all of your shopping done in one place.  The Dollar Store is also an excellent option for getting the most out of your back-to-school gear. Places like garage sales and thrift stores often sell gently used backpacks and clothing very cheap. Sometimes you don't even have to head to the store. Online shopping on sites like Craigslist can get you gently used items for cheap as well.  If you need to buy your own books, Amazon.com is a great option.

2. Keep an eye out for coupons

Coupons aren't just your typical newspaper cut-outs anymore! There are a ton of high-tech ways to save on your school supplies. Try browsing the Internet on sites like ebates.com or mrrebates.com. They will clue you in on the best deals, coupon codes and provide rebates if you shop on their site.  Social media is also a great way to hunt for a bargain. Many companies tweet out coupons and early sales notices to their customers.  Stores like Target even have apps and a Text to get Coupon promotion that will send the coupons directly to your mobile phone.

3. Get creative

Sometimes you don't even have to shop for school supplies at all! Get a few moms together and host a back-to-school swap. If your children are different ages you can often trade clothes, books and school supplies without ever having to buy a thing. Also, you may find that you have many supplies your kids might need for school in your home office. Get creative decorating a plain white binder or manilla folder with digital pictures or magazine clippings! Websites like craftchi.com even allow you to make your own school supplies using household items.

4. Think ahead

Many people are focused on the current school supply list, but a little thinking ahead could save you a bundle! Before you head out on your shopping trip do a quick sweep of the supplies you currently have.  You may find that you don't need to buy as many things as you think you do.  Also, it's OK to buy items in bulk!  Many things go on sale at the end of the summer, so go ahead and stock up for the entire year. It may be a bit of a shock at the time but it will save you money in the long run.

5. Timing is everything

When shopping for your child's school supplies timing can make a huge difference. If you buy supplies just AFTER the peak times of sale (usually August and January) you can save up to 50 to 75 percent off the retail price. Keep in mind that this may limit your selection. If you do miss the big sale however, don't fear! If you keep your receipt and bring it back after you've purchased the item, many stores will grant you a price adjustment.