Does it feel like money just seems to fall out of your pocket during back-to-school season? You’re not alone: According to a study from Zulily, 71% of consumers think that people spend too much on back-to-school shopping.

With a little bit of savvy, it is possible to avoid overtaxing your wallet and still help your kids start the school year off right. We asked parents for their best back-to-school cost-saving hacks — here’s what they told us.

  1. LOOK TO PARENTS OF OLDER STUDENTS
    “Check with friends, family and neighbors with kids who recently finished school to see if you can buy leftover supplies from them. I have older kids and now have a ton of unused things in my old school supply cupboard that I would happily give away to a younger parent. If you don’t know any of these ‘seasoned’ parents, post on the neighborhood Facebook page to see if anyone is out there; they probably never thought about offering!” — Michelle, Ocean City, New Jersey

  2. DO A SIBLING SWAP
    “I got tired of four kids requesting new (and trendy and expensive) backpacks every year. So I would buy durable ones in neutral colors, wash them frequently to keep them nice, and then would have the kids swap them after every school year, sometimes even switching them out over the long holiday break, so that the backpack was ‘new’ to them. I seriously can’t remember when I last bought a backpack.” — Carey, Stockton, California

  3. USE GARAGE-SALE EARNINGS
    “Our family had an end-of-summer garage sale. The kids cleaned out their closets and the toy room, and even made lemonade and cookies to sell. I let them spend what they earned on back-to-school clothes. It was a fun way to declutter and of course showed them the value of a dollar.” — Carol, Vashon, Washington

  4. DIY SINGLE-SERVING LUNCHES
    “Instead of buying prepackaged items for school lunches, I buy full-size versions and re-portion them into reusable containers. Sometimes I buy a couple of 6-inch subs at the grocery store and cut them up to make four or five small sandwiches. That way the kids eat the entire thing instead of part of a whole sandwich, and you have lunch for a couple of days for one price. The same principle applies to taking large bags of chips and making your own zip-top snack packs, rather than buying the more expensive single-serve bags.” — Cheryl, Salem, Oregon

  5. REGISTER EARLY FOR ACTIVITIES
    “Don’t wait to register for things like fall sports, camps during school breaks and other activities. Early registration discounts between $20 and $50 are common. Also, if you have more than one child, you can often get a sibling discount for the second one. It’s worth asking about, even if it’s not offered.” — Melissa, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

  6. SET LIMITS ON AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
    “Costs can easily add up if you have kids who want to try different activities, especially those that need a lot of equipment or otherwise have a big start-up cost. I set a per-child activities spending limit. It not only encourages them to choose something to focus on that really interests them, but also leaves space for family time, chores and other activities that can get overshadowed when kids are over-scheduled.”
    — Elizabeth, Nehalem, Oregon

  7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF STUDENT DISCOUNTS
    “Always ask for a student discount. Many stores and software companies offer discounts to students who have either a .edu email address or a student ID, which covers kids in middle school on up. Even if you don’t see a discount advertised at the store, it doesn’t hurt to ask.” — Lisa, Milwaukee

  8. ONLY BUY WHAT’S NECESSARY OFF THE SCHOOL LIST
    “Ask teachers if your child really needs all the items on the lists. I volunteer a ton and found cupboards full of tissues, erasers, wet wipes and more because the lists hadn’t been updated every year, or the school just found a generic one online that didn’t match up with the planned curriculum. You can also often find unused supplies at stores like Goodwill.” — Kristin, Tigard, Oregon

  9. HOLD OFF ON TRENDY CLOTHES
    “Wait until the kids have started school to shop for clothes. Otherwise, you risk blowing big bucks on the ‘in’ thing that might not be what your kids’ friends are wearing.” — Aimee, Castle Rock, Colorado

  10. COVER YOUR CARPOOL COSTS WITH REWARDS
    “Shop at grocery stores that have fuel-rewards programs. Winn-Dixie, Safeway, Kroger, Stop & Shop and Harris Teeter are just a few stores that participate, and the savings can really add up. Often, they run specials when you earn even more points for various purchases, like gift cards. And choose a credit card that offers rewards to the stores where you routinely shop.”
    — Melissa, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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