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What’s the second biggest shopping season of the year?  If you guessed back to school time, you’re absolutely correct.   According to the National Retail Federation, parents are expected to spend close to $700 for clothes and school supplies this year.  Before you blow your budget checking off everything on your list, check out our money-saving tips.

Raid their closet to see what fits

Before heading to the store, go through your kid’s belongings and see what they already own.  Chances are you’ll be able to find a few pieces you can hold on to a bit longer.  As you go through their closets, make separate piles for items you want to keep, toss or donate to charity.  Once you see what can be reused, create an inventory list to avoid buying things you don’t need.

Browse circulars to find the best deals for the items you need

Shopping without a game plan is a recipe for disaster.  To keep your spending on track, review your budget and determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend on each child.  Next, grab your inventory and school supply lists and look through your weekly circulars to see which stores are offering the best deals for the listed items.  Don’t forget to look for store coupons to increase your savings.  Sites like RetailMeNot offer coupons that can be redeemed online or in-stores.

Purchase discounted gift cards

Want your money to go a little further?  Use a gift card to fund your shopping trip.  Sites like Gift Card Granny sells unwanted gift cards for less than face value.  For instance, a gift card to your favorite retailer may be worth $150 but they’ll sell it to you for $115.  That’s an extra $35 you get to put towards your purchase.  Some deals are better than others but every little bit helps.

Earn cash back when you shop online

One of the best aspects of shopping online is the ability to earn cash back rewards.  Just start your trip through a cash back site like Rakuten and you’ll be rewarded whenever you make a purchase from one of their participating retailers.  They’ll even provide a list of available coupons so you don’t miss out on any savings opportunities.  Worried about shipping costs?  Don’t be.  Most retailers offer free shipping as long as you spend over a certain limit.

Exchange gently-worn items with other parents

Kids outgrow their clothes at a rapid pace. Therefore, you probably have some items that were worn only a handful of times or not at all.  If you have friends or family members with have kids in the same age group, consider exchanging gently-worn items that no longer fit.  This will allow you to spruce up their wardrobe for free.