It’s last-minute for back to school and your wallet is slim. Very slim. Don’t panic! I know some kids need new shiny school outfits for the first week or two, but not all do. Ask your children if a particular element is very important to them. For some, it’s not. My sons are perfectly content in whatever they grab out of their closets, so why would I spend money on new shorts when they will just outgrow them before next spring? Don’t add unnecessary pressure if you can’t afford it. When our budget is small and our desires are bigger, we need to do two things; shop on a budget and prioritize. Here are some tips and reminders that may help.

Dollar stores are great for small items like pencils, pens, sticky notes, and index cards. Don’t make the mistake of skimping and buying binders there, as they’ll probably break by mid-October. Dollar stores are also good for tissues, Ziploc bags, lunch cases, and juice boxes. As a side note, if your teacher requests multiple items (like two boxes of tissues) you can jot a note and say that you’ll send a second one midyear.

Reuse anything you can from the previous year. It boggles my mind how much we have leftover. We just repack the pencil case or reuse binders that are still in good condition. Markers come home untouched and the highlighters are barely used. Many items can be crossed off your list and taken from your “at home” supply closet.

For clothing: outlet stores, thrift shops, and yard sales can save you money. My daughter got a name brand sweatshirt at a yard sale for $3 that retails for upwards of $40 in the store. Facebook has many buy and sell pages that can save you money on everything from clothes to backpacks.

Office supply stores can be overpriced on school supplies, but when they run their doorbuster sales, or BOGO free (or cheap), it can help you save a bunch! Know your prices and grab all the notebooks and school supplies there!

Amazon is everyone’s best friend right? I get my kids accordion folders there and appreciate the ease and convenience. It’s always worth a shot to see what they have there.

Buy in bulk. I hesitate to write this since initially (obviously) you have to spend more money, however warehouse clubs can offer great deals. Make sure to compare prices and know if you can store the items!

All your online shopping should be done using a cashback site, like Swagbucks or Ebates. Check sites like retailmenot for savings codes first. Many stores send discount codes when you sign up for emails online or by text. These can add up so definitely compare!

There are many ways to save for back to school and not go crazy. Make a list of priorities and start there first. Happy new school year!