College kids are getting ready to go back and in about a month school will start back up. Back to school shopping can be quite costly, but it doesn't have to be.

The back to school sections of stores have been up since the last day of school. While you've been mildly annoyed they've been up for so long, school has been approaching and the dreaded back to school shopping is right around the corner. This yearly practice can cost a pretty penny. How can you save some of your hard earned money this year?

  • Getty Images
    Getty Images

    Make use of dollar stores.

    I've noticed many of the back to school essentials can cost less than a dollar on average. Of course there are some that make you question why they are so expensive. Hit the dollar store and you might just get some great buys.

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    Check what you already have.

    In our house we have a cabinet unit full of school and art supplies. I should add that only one person in the house is still in school, but you always need pens right? You might have forgotten about the cheap notebooks you stocked up on last year.

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    Check online before you buy.

    If you live close to a bunch of stores that have back to school supplies, go online and see how much the items on your list cost. Don't forget to check for any special deals and coupons they have.

  • Fuse, Thinkstock
    Fuse, Thinkstock

    Find out stores' rewards.

    Did you know you can earn $2 in Staples Rewards for each ink cartridge you recycle? Have you tried Target's Cartwheel app that gives you coupons on certain items? Did you know if you have a Target debit card you save 5% every time you use it? Did you know Walmart has a Savings Catcher to scan your receipt and get money back if it's cheaper somewhere else?

    Learn about these store rewards here:

  • Grata Victoria, Thinkstock
    Grata Victoria, Thinkstock

    Read up on stores' coupon policies.

    Did you know that most craft stores accept competitors coupons? Walmart does too. Make sure you check store circulars before you go out. You can also download the RetailMeNot App so you can check while you are out or check their website. They compile coupons for every store.

  • djedzura, Thinkstock
    djedzura, Thinkstock

    Learn which items it's better to splurge on.

    I remember my mom buying multiple backpacks throughout the school year for my brothers because they ripped them. Instead of gravitating towards the cheaper item that you will probably have to replace during the year, spend more money one time and save money in the long run.

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    Stock up on certain items.

    If there is a great deal like .13 cent notebooks, stock up! You know you're going to need them down the road so buy them in bulk.

  • Boris Kaulin, Thinkstock
    Boris Kaulin, Thinkstock

    Wait to buy college textbooks until after your first class.

    I know this sounds crazy, but trust me. As someone who did this in college I can assure you this will save you hundreds of dollars! Most professors know students wait until after the first class to buy the textbooks. Even better is some of the required books that the college tells you to buy you might not actually need for the class. The professor will tell you this during the first class. Check out secondhand textbook sites like I lived and breathed Chegg (the website not the wing place) when I was in school. You can rent or buy your textbooks for the semester. If you have friends that had taken the class you are taking previously, ask them if you can borrow their's.

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    Check any restrictions on what you can have in your dorm.

    I lived in an off campus apartment, but it was run by the school and they had restrictions of what we could and couldn't have. Since the apartment had a full kitchen, we were not allowed to have a mini fridge. Check before you buy.

  • David Sacks, Thinkstock
    David Sacks, Thinkstock

    Garage sales and Craigslist are your best friends.

    Let's be honest with each other, the stuff you buy for your college dorm room aren't things you are going to keep forever. You will probably throw out most of the stuff once you graduate. Check garage sales and Craigslist for great buys. Expert tip: check for garage sales right after colleges get out and check Craigslist around colleges right before college gets out. Students will be looking to get rid of their stuff.

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