The ultimate shopping guide for anyone with kids or adults going back to school. Back to school shopping is expensive, inconvenient and inevitable. But there are definitely ways to beat the game. So get savvy, save money and spend less over the long term with these tips and strategies for back to school shopping for clothes and supplies.

Plan now, buy later, save more

Take an inventory of what your kids have now and plan to buy what they need later. The longer you can wait, the more you are likely to save, as stores tend to have bigger sales after school starts.

Better yet, plan ahead year-round

You’ll save money throughout the year if you always buy in the off-season. Winter clothing will go on sale in April and summer clothing prices will always drop in September.

Keep up with savings apps

Stay on top of back-to-school-related offers, such as coupons and coupon codes and free-shipping offers with savings apps Checkout 51, Red Flag Deals, Snap and Flipp.

Ask for gifts & spend less

Whether your child’s birthday is near the start of school or not, clothes or clothing store gift cards are a great option to keep your child’s wardrobe up all year. Kids are not always happy to get clothes for their birthday, but including one special toy or item they really want is usually enough to make them feel special.

Take advantage of exchange guarantees

Walmart offers exchange programs on clothing and shoes that get worn out before your child outgrows the item.

Walmart Canada guarantees children’s clothing will not wear out before the child it was purchased for outgrows it. If it does, you can exchange it for the identical item of the same size at no cost. Covers children’s clothing from size zero to 16 and shoes from toddler sizes to boys’ youth size six and girls’ youth size four.

Swap it!

Facebook is a hot spot for consignment groups and clothing swaps. Sometimes the best way to find one is to start one. Collect the gently used items your child has outgrown and offer straight exchanges for similar clothing in the next size. Works for school supplies, too. You can also check out Facebook Marketplace for local exchange, buy & sell!

Price match your little heart out

Many retailers will match or beat competitors’ prices (with some product exceptions). Retailers that offer price matching include Walmart, Hudson’s Bay, Sport Chek and The Source.

Keep buyer’s remorse at bay

Keep your receipts and check back in store for post-purchase sales, as many retailers offer a price adjustment, usually between seven and 30 days. Stores that offer price adjustments include The Children’s Place, Carter’s/OshKosh, Walmart, Hudson’s Bay, Sears, Best Buy, Staples and Sport Chek.

Cover your costs

Cashco Financial offers Flex Loans that can help you cover the costs of back-to-school shopping.  Cashco Flex Loans can be used as a personal line of credit that can be topped up or paid off fully anytime.

Make them pay (sort of)

A possible idea for next year. Budget how much you will need to spend on back-to-school clothes and then make a plan for how your kids can earn that money through chores and helping out around the house. They’re going to get the money anyway (but they don’t know that) and it’s a great way to get them more involved with household chores.

If nothing else, save your receipts

You’ll need proof of purchase to take advantage of price adjustments and warranties. Designate a spot now for all back-to-school receipts.

For more back to school hacks, click here.