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We all want to be the cool mom for our kids: the one that plays ball at the park, the one that packs the tastiest lunches, the one who says yes to ice cream. But what’s cooler than saving money while being your cool mom self? (Nothing, your bank account whispered.

It’s already July, and as loathe as you might be to say goodbye to summer, it’s time to start thinking about the impending school year and all the supplies that go with it. Have you started shopping yet?

DO: Start Shopping Soon

The best deals for back-to-school begin in late July and kick off in a major way come August. Make sure you start early to get an idea of great deals vs. usual pricing and to get the best selection on everything your kids will need this semester.

DON’T: Stock Up for the Whole Year

It may sound like a good idea now to buy everything your kids will need for the rest of the year and get it off your brain. But will those Lion King-themed notebooks still be as stylish next March as they are right now? How many pencils, dry erase markers, and glue sticks will you really need.

A good deal will tempt you to buy in bulk. Just make sure your home doesn’t look like the school supplies aisle when you bring it all home.

DO: Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekend

12 states host a “tax-free” weekend in August to alleviate some of the costs of school prep. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of those states, take advantage and scoop up school purchases both big and small while saving a little cash.

DON’T: Be Afraid to Shop Online

Who said you had to do all of your shopping in-person? Stocking up on school supplies online can offset a lot of the season’s stress. It’ll also allow you to plan your purchases a little more carefully than when you’re shopping on a crowded aisle at Target.

DO: Find the Best Deal

Maybe this summer has been a little stressful on your budget, or maybe school supplies aren’t your favorite thing to blow money on. Either way, a little patience can go a long way in scoring you the best savings on this year’s supplies.

Take the time to browse around and find the best deals on every product, from lunchboxes and pencils to shoes, tech and more.

DON’T: Buy Everything at One Store

On the savings note, make sure you don’t shop all in one place. It can be tempting to walk into just one store and get it over with all at once, but you’ll find better deals if you shop around

Some places will have better prices on uniforms, and somewhere else might have a killer deal on binders. Shop for cheap art supplies at an art supply store like Michael or Joann’s, and don’t forget the dollar store for low-priced essentials!

DO: Let Your Kid Get the Cute Backpack

Here’s where you earn your cool mom points. No, it probably won’t be as durable as the plain one. Yes, it probably costs a few more dollars. But if you time it right, you can find the cute or themed backpacks on sale for as much as 50 percent off. That’s a deal your wallet can live with, and your child will feel that much more confident at school. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

DON’T: Shop at the End of the Week

Most weekly sales begin Sunday morning, so if you wait until Friday, you’ll be left with slim pickings. As much as the phrase may make you roll your eyes, back-to-school shopping is one situation where the early bird really does get the juicy worm.



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