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7 Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

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    Track the Sales

    "During the weeks leading up to the first day of school, I start checking all the Sunday inserts from Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and Target. The stores have specials at different times, so I note down on a piece of paper what I need, which store has the deal, and when. I also clip and collect coupons in an envelope. It's tedious but in the end the extra effort saves us loads of money."

    —singleplus3

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    Barter with Other Mothers

    "If you have a moms' group in your area, organize a clothing swap party where people can exchange items for free. Select a time, date, and venue, such as someone's house for a small group or a park if you're inviting lots of people. Ask everyone to show up with their kids' gently used garments. The general rule is 'bring four items, get four items,' but your group can trade more or less."

    —sgtjohns2

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    Download Textbooks Online

    "I am a mom of a high school sophomore and junior and have gone back to college. For myself—and as the parent of future university students—I have found that buying books online has helped tremendously. Many professors now allow or even encourage students to use virtual books that you purchase and download to your computer. It's almost always cheaper than getting physical copies."

    —connie

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    Go Beyond Big Box Stores

    "We have 5 kids—9, 8, 4, and 2-year-old twins. After shopping yard sales all spring and summer, we round out our back-to-school prep by going to Plato's Closet, a national chain that sells trendy, secondhand brand-name clothing in good condition for a lot less than retail. Thanks to our planning, we get most, if not all, their clothes for a fraction of what we'd spend buying new."

    —akhallberg

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    Spread Out Your Purchases

    "I have four kids going back to school. Over the summer, I try to buy things I know they will need—pencils, glue, crayons—each time I go shopping. By picking up a few items here and there, I'm not dropping a lot of cash all at once."

    —momofour

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    Save a Lot, Splurge a Little

    "My 16-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy are both bargain hunters—they watch for sales and shop at Goodwill and other thrift stores. But they're normal kids who want to have the next big thing, so to balance out and reward their careful spending, every year I allow them each to splurge on two must-have items of their choice."

    —KPMOM101

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    Get Next Year's Supplies This Fall

    "Notebooks, packs of paper, pens, highlighters, poster board, and index cards are ridiculously cheap after the new school year rush. I buy a couple years' worth of items and stash the extras away to pull out the following September."

    —Regina

    Copyright &copy 2010 Meredith Corporation.

  • Tom Corbett

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