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Back-to-School Money Saving Tips

(Here's a really cheesy back-to-school photo my sister and I took as teenagers. SO ADORABLE. Raise your hand if you over-plucked your eyebrows in high school!)

It's back-to-school season!!! A lot of kids are already back in the swing of things, while northern kids and college students will start this week and next.

I read the other day it costs the average family $1,355 PER CHILD in school supply costs, so I wanted to give you guys some of my tips to save whether you've got a kid heading to kindergarten or you are back in college.

1. Reuse and recycle the supplies you already have.

I think I used the same three-ring binders for all of middle school. You can absolutely salvage and reuse a lot of school supplies. There's no need to have all-new everything every single year. Sure, your kids outgrow clothes, but there's no shame in collecting pencils and pens from your junk drawer, repurposing a barely used notebook, and keeping that three-ring binder alive for another year.

2. Plan ahead.

If you can spread your back-to-school purchases out over a longer period of time, you may be able to find better deals and your bank account won't take one big hit come September.

3. The dollar store has cheap school supplies.

Go to your local dollar store to buy your pens, pencils, folders, etc. Splurge on only a few items, the rest can be purchased at a discount store. I remember kids buying those stupid gel pens and running out ink in like a week.

4. Use an app to compare prices.

Apps like ShopSavvy, TTPM, Price.com, or camelcamelcamel (yes, that's the real name) can help you find the lowest prices, review products, and save money.

5. Download textbooks online (if possible).

More and more textbooks are available in electronic format and they are often far cheaper as an ebook. A lot of professors are even encouraging students to download books instead of buying the hardcopies. Think of the trees you'll save in addition to money!

6. Be Generous

If you are in a healthy financial position, remember the kids who aren't. Donate supplies to your kids' classrooms. Help a teacher out by stocking up there classroom with learning essentials. Teachers are underpaid, overworked, and use their own money to make their classrooms a spectacular learning environment.

I'll leave you with my pre-school portrait. I'm thinking about bringing this haircut back. I really rocked it.

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