By Michael Axe

Summer’s over, vacations are done and all our children are heading back to school. This can be an expensive time for parents. We all see it at the stores: parents buying their children new cloths, new backpacks and new school supplies. The list goes on and on. As financially empowered consumers, we should do our best to save money and get our children back to school on a budget. Here are some ideas on how to achieve just that.

Instead of going out the weekend before school starts and binge shopping for clothes, plan ahead. Most stores will have better sales throughout the year. When you find a great deal on clothes for your children, buy their current size and one size larger. Pack the larger clothes away for later. Then, when your child starts school, they already have new cloths to wear.

Another great option is to check local consignment stores for gently used clothing. Many of these stores are locally owned. By purchasing at a consignment store, you’re not only saving money, you’re also supporting the local economy.

Think to yourself, “Does my child really need a new backpack and school supplies?” Maybe, maybe not. If this is not your child’s first year at school, they probably already have a functioning bag. And, if you look in all your junk draws around the house, you will probably find a stockpile of pencils, crayons, paper and glue. Reuse what was left over from last year and only buy what is essential. Most schools will be happy to provide a list of items that will be used throughout the school year.

Keep an eye out for coupons. Traditionally coupons could only be found with the local paper. Today, coupons can also be found online and on mobile apps, such as Cartwheel by Target and the Savings Catcher in the Walmart app

Waiting to buy school supplies until they are on clearance is also a money-saving option. Shortly after school begins, many stores will begin to discount their remaining stock of school supplies. If your child doesn’t needs every item on their supply list the first day, purchasing them after clearance mark-downs could save you quite a bit!

You could also ask other parents what they do to save money. Not only will you get great tips, you may also be able to share some of the tips you have learned.

Take the time now and plan for the first day of school. Step back and look at what you could be spending on all new things at retail prices and compare that to what you will save by planning ahead. What will you do with your savings?