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Back to school on a budget

Back to school can be plenty spendy. Use these 4 easy tips to stretch your dollar without depriving your kids.

By GreatSchools Staff

Unclutter your closets

Does it seem like your child outgrows his clothes every season? Instead of tossing out the too-small tees and jeans and hitting the mall, try organizing a clothing swap with friends and neighbors, preferably those with kids of varying ages. You’ll update his wardrobe while clearing out your closets — and saving money.

Reuse and revamp what you already have

Many school supplies can have a second life, such as backpacks, binders, folders, and even pens. If a notebook has been only lightly used, tear out the marked-up sheets of paper and have your child decorate the cover with stickers, stencils, or colorful paper to give it a fresh look. Does your child's backpack have a lifetime warranty? Some companies like Jansport will repair broken zippers or replace damaged backpacks for free.

Be a coupon clipper

Keep an eye out for sales and deals advertised in the newspaper and online. Stores will try to lure you in with their promotions in the hopes that you'll buy everything there, discounted or not. Be sure to stick to the bargain items — if something is not on your list, just say no.

Dig into discounts at dollar stores

Substantial savings abound at your local dollar store. Scissors, glue, erasers, rulers, crayons, and more can be purchased for far less than at chain or office supply stores. And you'll find that many of the items are the same familiar name brands.

Comments from readers

"My kids always seem to lose their hoodies/sweaters/jackets. In the past I bought new ones and hoped for the best. But the better/nicer the item, the more likely it won't show up in lost and found if they leave it on the playground (always a problem in California, where mornings are cool and afternoons are warmer). I used to replace them at the thrift store (they were supposed to cover the replacement cost). Now I just buy the first ones there. I got a great one for my 12 year old for a third of the sale price of a new one! I can stock up at that price and have one in reserve for when he loses this one, LOL!"
"I'm going to school in less than a month and i think this is a great article! I never knew that jansport fixed backbacks for FREE! I would have never thrown away my old one's that were broken!"
"i like when the teacher sends my daughter a letter with the list of what she needs."