Truth? I haven’t even thought about back-to-school shopping yet. And I’m not going to either anytime soon because I’m not willing to admit summer is almost over. But at some point, probably the week before, I’ll have to pull something together. But I’m not worried because after many years of procrastination practice,  I’ve got this down. Check out these tips to make the mad rush not so maddening.

#1 Make A List And Check It Twice

Before heading out and filling up your cart like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, organize the kids’ closets and see what can be salvaged for the upcoming school season. It’s easy to buy duplicates of things you already have if you don’t know you already have them. Make a list of what you need (including quantities) and do your best to stay on track.

#2 Fly Solo

I didn’t have the proper sensibilities to cobble together a unified new wardrobe for school until I was, well, probably in college. If left to my own devices, I would have ended up with 13 shirts and one pair of pants that didn’t match any of them (which I was and did). So if you can swing a shopping trip sans kids (and honestly, why would anyone would ever willingly drag youngsters with them to shop for clothes is beyond me), do your research on where the sales are and hit up as many stores as you can at once. It’ll be easier, less stressful and you’ll accomplish 1000x more alone than you would in a pack.

#3 Remember, It’s Still Summer

I have so many photographs of myself on the first day of school in corduroys and a wool sweater. Weren’t we roasting? While shopping for the heavier fall and winter clothes, don’t forget to hit up the clearance racks full of summer garb since they’ll probably be wearing into late September.

#4 Shop Online

Most stores have the same sales in-store as they do online, so why drag yourself out into the madness? No more searching for colors, sizes and matching ensembles. With the shopper recommendations and easy to find items, it’s all laid out for you.

#5 Buck The System With Credit Cards

If you plan on making a large purchase at one store, you may want to consider opening (gasp!) a store credit card…wait, I can explain! Typically, you’ll shave 15-20% off of your entire purchase by opening an account which can amount to saving a lot of green. Then, pay it off and close the account immediately. However, if you do choose to keep it, you’ll regularly receive special card holder discounts and coupons. Note: be sure to pay off your balance every month because the interest rates, usually around 20%APR, are a killer!

#6 Printable & Online Coupons

Google “coupons” or “coupon codes” for the stores you like and you’re bound to come up some sort of savings. Many coupons have limitations and can only be used in-store or online but it’s worth the extra few minutes of searching—you can often save 15-20% or receive free shipping which will typically save you $10 or more.

Ready, set, go. Happy shopping!

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