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Genius Swaps That Will Save You BIG on Back-to-School Shopping

Feeling daunted by a long list of school supplies? Get everything on the list for less with a few smart tricks and trades.

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Use a zip-top plastic bag for a pencil case

For super cheap school supplies, think outside the school supply aisle. Punch three holes in the bottom of the plastic bag, and use it inside a three-ring binder to keep pens and pencils in place. These are the 7 funniest test answers from kids that will be sure to make your laugh.

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Swap the pre-sharpened pencils for unsharpened ones

You'll pay a premium for the ones that already come sharpened—and if you've already splurged on a high-quality sharpener, you'll be able to get a whole box of pencils pointy in no time flat.

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Trade your kids' outgrown clothes for another family's gently used treasures

Most kids outgrow their clothes before they put much wear and tear on them. "We swapped with families who had children with clothes we could use and we had clothes they could use," Kay says. "Search on Facebook for swap sites in your area and then look to see what items you can use (and swap) on that site. To swap clothing online, go to thredup.com, swap.com, swapstyle.com."

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Use masking tape instead of preprinted labels

You want to make sure your kid keeps tabs on his gear—but affixing preprinted labels on every crayon box and folder can add up fast. Use a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie to ensure the scissors and folders stay with him all year long. (That'll help reduce the number of replacement items you buy too!)

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Swap out paper flashcards for their digital counterparts

"In the age of technology, digital flashcards like Brainscape are accessible, affordable, and scientifically proven more effective through an adaptive flashcards algorithm," says Amanda from Quicken, Inc. "You can also continuously make your own and update digital flashcard sets, unlike standard paper flashcards that are unchangeable and tend to get worn over time." Try these easy tricks for beating back-to-school stress.

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Use stickers in lieu of fancy character gear

Have a kid who's into superheroes or princesses? Stickers are a cheaper way to indulge that passion. "Backpacks, pencil cases, and stationary emblazoned with your child's favorite character are way more expensive than plain items," says Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate at finder.com. "Instead, buy a book of stickers to decorate plain items purchased in your child's favorite color. They'll find it fun, you'll save a lot, and it will be easy to recycle the next year by removing and replacing stickers when they've moved on to the next fad." These are the 33 things your child's teacher secretly thinks.

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