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CHAPEL HILL, NC - AUGUST 18: Student-athletes ride through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.The school halted in-person classes and reverted back to online courses after a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past week. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

Ready or not, it’s almost back-to-school season in some places. It seems like summer just started, but here we are once again. And according to the National Retail Federation, the average family is planning to spend $848.90 on back-to-school supplies!

That’s way up from last year and it’s a lot for crayons, backpacks, and calculators. Want to avoid spending a small fortune? These are some tips to keep your back-to-school spending under control according to Real Simple.

  • Reuse and recycle – You probably have a lot of things from last year that can be used again. Give those backpacks and lunchboxes a good wash and start going through supplies you have at home to see if you have notebooks, pencils, pens, and binders that can be put back into rotation.
  • Invest in gear that’s built to last – Sometimes, you really do get what you paid for, like with L.L. Bean backpacks. They cost more upfront, but it’s worth it when they don’t have to be replaced.
  • Put off some clothes shopping now – Your kid won’t need that sweatshirt anytime soon, so let them wear their summer clothes for now and buy jeans and wintery clothing items later. And bonus – the back-to-school clothes will be on sale than to make room for holiday stuff!
  • Focus your time and effort on big-ticket items – Don’t waste your energy and time running to three stores to save 50-cents on notebooks, instead focus on saving money on pricier things like computers and calculators.
  • Skip the disposables – Ditch the plastic baggies and spring for reusable lunch containers that you don’t have to replenish, plus, they’re better for the planet, too.
  • Buy plain and DIY – Get plain white binders and simple folders and let your kids get creative with stickers and markers to personalize them.
  • Let your kids cover their own wish lists – You cover the basics, but that locker disco ball? Your kid can save $15 for that little extra, or they’ll decide they don’t actually need it when their own money is involved.

Source: Real Simple