Back-to-school time is upon us. And though you are probably anxious to get the kids out of the house, back-to-school shopping can get expensive. New clothes, school supplies, books and other essentials really add up. You don’t need to go broke. These helpful tips can help you save some cash when back to school shopping.

Image: istockphoto

Image: istockphoto

Evaluate Your Inventory
When it comes to school supplies, don’t run out to your neighborhood superstore just yet. Instead take inventory of what’s in your own house. Things like backpacks, lunchboxes, pencil cases and other items don’t need to be bought every year. Check around your house and see what can be used again. Take inventory of child’s closet as well. After you know what you have, you can make a list of what your kids really need.

Shop Tax-Free
Many states offer tax-free days or weekends that correspond with the start of the school year. It’s a terrific way to get all the school supplies you need without paying sales tax. Donna L Montaldo,’s guide to Coupons and Bargains, has a list compiled of the tax-free shopping dates by state.

Don’t Shop for Everything at One Retailer
Sure, it’s convenient to get everything you need in one place, but it always makes sense to shop around for the best deals. You can compare prices online through shopping search engines, and many more. When shopping online, keep shipping costs in mind when figuring out the bottomline. And when shopping at outlet stores, take notice of the time (and gas) it will take to get to out of town locations.

Stick to the Basics
Fashion trends don’t last long. So when shopping for children’s clothes, concentrate on the staples that can be worn season after season. The majority of your clothing budget should go for the basics. Trendy items should be bought at the end with any extra money you have left from the budget.

Set Up Sales Alert
Nearly every department store, superstore and other shop has a website. Online, you can sign up for newsletters and sales alerts that will inform you via email of upcoming sales and discounts. Also scour your Sunday newspaper for coupons and hot deals.

Head to a Swap
Clothing swaps are becoming more and more popular for both children and adults. You can host a swap with neighbors. Let you children pick which items they want to swap. What is one child’s trash is another’s treasure. Also look to ebay, where you can find new and slightly used clothing at discount prices.

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