Each new school year brings with it the promise of new learning experiences and new friends.

But it also means new books, new supplies and new clothes. If you plan ahead (and stick to your plan) you can buy everything your kids need to head back to school without spending a fortune. 

Check out these budget-friendly back-to-school shopping tips:

Create a list.
Start with the supply list provided by your child’s teacher or school. These things are typically essential to your child’s school work. Then, add in outside needs like new clothing, a backpack, a lunch bag, and study aids. 

It’s fine to get a few things that simply make the school day or homework easier, but try to avoid adding too many extras. For your clothing list, first determine what your kids have currently. Find out what school clothing still fits and isn’t worn out, then add whatever is needed to round out their wardrobe. 

Remember, even if your student wears a uniform, you’ll still need to consider outerwear, socks, shoes and undergarments.


Create a budget. 
Working from a budget is the best way to buy responsibly and save money, no matter what you’re shopping for. Use your list to help you determine the total amount you want to spend, and then break that number down into categories of supplies and clothing.

You can even do it the smart way by using MAX’s Smartfolio. Smartfolio makes managing your money more enjoyable and effective than ever by providing a simple and secure way to see your overall financial picture. When you create a budget with Smartfolio, your spending begins to take form. Smartfolio helps you keep track of what you are spending or saving, and Smartfolio Goals allow you to monitor your financial goals and stay on track.

Use your MAX debit card. 
When you choose your MAX debit card, you earn cash every time you swipe, dip, tap, or spend online. With Smart Plus, your debit rebates add up quickly, and it doesn't matter what supplies you're purchasing - earning debit rebates means you can say "Yes" to more!

Shop at home. 
Take out that list and then start searching your house. Old rulers and pencils still work, and last year’s binders can be repurposed and reused. Decorate them with patterned washi tape or stickers, add a monogram or name with colored indelible markers, or, for binders with clear covers, print out photos or logos to slide in front. And from now on, start stockpiling basic supplies. Any time you see on-sale notebooks, tape and other items that get used up, buy them while they’re cheap and put them away for next year.


Start early. 
Many retailers start their back-to-school promotions in mid-July. So if you’re ready to shop, you’ll have more options to choose from, which can translate into more savings.

Use Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay
With MAX's digital wallet services, you can store your MAX credit or debit card digitally in your smart phone. Back-to-school shopping can be stressful, and speeding up the check-out process can go a long way.  


Shop around. 
Do some research online to see who has the best prices on your necessity items, and don’t be afraid to drive to a few different places if there are big differences in prices. Remember though, the time and gas you burn hauling all the way across town or to a neighboring city may not be worth it for just a few dollars in savings. If you find a deal advertised by another store, ask the store you’re in if they’ll match the lower price. Several national retailers do this all the time. You can also compare prices while you’re shopping using smartphone apps like RedLaser and Google Shopper.

Also, check online retailers like Amazon and eBay for your supply list needs. You'll find great deals on new and used items. 


Buy in bulk.
Consider buying large quantities of items that get used up quickly and don’t change in format or style often (pencils, notebook paper, printer paper, etc.). You may pay more now, but when you examine the price-per-item breakdown, you’ve actually spent less. Plus, you’ll have what you need on-hand, preventing those frantic, last-minute supply runs.


Shop end-of-summer sales for clothes. 
In Alabama and most of the Southeast, many of the summer items that get discounted in August are still climate-appropriate to wear all the way into October. Stock up on short-sleeved shirts and tees for boys and girls during these sales.


Skip the trends.
Kids can be fickle, and the pencil case that’s cool in July may not be the one they want when they see what their friends have in mid-August. Either stick with more generic items (instead of those covered with movie characters or logos), or hold off on one item and let them choose a “trendy” version right after school begins. Chances are, whatever is left will be marked down by then.


Manage cash on the go. 
Use your MAX Mobile Banking app to keep track of your back-to-school spending and stick to that budget! MAX Mobile Banking is a fast and secure way to perform banking tasks with ease! For example, you can check your account balances, deposit a check by taking a picture, transfer money between your eligible MAX accounts, handle your online bill pay needs, and even locate the closest MAX ATM or branch while you’re on the run.