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How to save money on back-to-school clothes and other genius hacks

Back-to-school season is here! Use these tips to make your family's life easier.
/ Source: TODAY

Kids go back to school anytime from late July to early September, and that means the pressure for parents to get organized can start as early as mid-summer.

Back-to-school basics — getting out the door on time, packing smart lunches and saving money — are top of mind for many parents right now. So, we culled the best school hacks to make life easier for parents (and kids!) straight from TikTok — which, among other things, has become a hotspot for family-themed content.

These tips will help your family breathe better as kids transition to the classroom.

Wait until the first weekend of the school year to buy clothes

Back-to-school sales usually start in July, but if you have a fashion-driven teen, wait until the second week of school to hit stores, suggests RebeccaWootWoot. She recommends buying just enough clothes to get kids through the first week of school and doing your actual spree that coming weekend.

"Styles change a lot from year to year so this gives them a week to look around and kind of see what's in style this year," she says in her video. "And then, you're more likely to buy clothes that kids will actually want to wear."

Related: 14 states have back-to-school sales tax holidays: Is yours one of them?

Save money on plastic snack bags

Zippered plastic bags are perfect for sandwiches, but they’re usually too big for snack-sized pretzels or chips. So cut them in half, says Wendy Lubb. Just heat up a sharp knife on the stove, then press it to a bag to seamlessly slice it in two.

Ask questions kids will answer

The beginning of the school year is overwhelming, and asking questions that are overly general won’t get you the scoop. Instead, Melissa Lea Hughes uses a multiple-choice tactic.

“‘How was your day?’ is such a big, general question that they don’t actually know where to go with that or how to answer it,” she explained. Asking, “What did you have for lunch today — did you have pizza or a hot dog?” is a better way in.

Giving kids two specific choices jogs their memory, she said. "Especially, if you're giving wrong answers to them, they're going to want to correct you."

Pack a period kit

Cute and discreet kits stuffed with period supplies can make emergency bathroom visits easier. Your_Period_Sis recommends packing a pair of underpants, pads, tampons and pain medication.

You also can add travel-sized containers of hairspray, Band-Aids or deodorant, suggests It's Me Lina Vega.

Place stickers on shoes to teach left and right

If your kid is learning the proper way to put on shoes, a sticker can differentiate between left and right feet. As demonstrated by Little Sunshine 4 You, cut a sticker in half and place each piece on the inside of both shoes. Then, line up the shoes and if the sticker images match up, they’ve got it right.

Keep cut apples white and crisp

Apples are an easy lunchbox addition, but slicing leads to oxidation and that unappetizing browning effect.

Eat Happier Dietitian suggests squeezing lemon or lime juice onto the slices before closing the lunchbox. According to Epicurious, the citric acid can stall the browning process.

Make cheap and replaceable lunchbox ice packs

Who else is tired of buying new ice packs when kids forget them at school? You could buy a freezable lunch bag or try this cheaper hack from All The Reads: Freeze wet sponges inside plastic baggies and pop them into your kid’s lunchbox. If they lose them at school, it’s no big deal.

More tips and tricks for easier back-to-school transitions:

Style your kid’s hair on the go

If you drive your kids to school, you’ll love this time-saving tip from Lauren.Clutter. Fill a plastic container with a brush, comb, elastics, gel or other hair products. Then, when you’re sitting in that long school drop-off line, detangle or style your kid’s hair.

Help improve handwriting with a roller stamp

Save money on lined notebooks and help your child practice handwriting with a stamp, suggests Educator Kathleen. Run the Miseyo Dashed Handwriting Lines Practice Roller Stamp on blank paper for DIY letter-formulation lines.  

Make getting dressed in the morning easier

Stop clothing arguments or those "I can't find my socks!" cries with planning from Jordan's Gems. On Sunday, have your kid pick out five outfits for the week (don't forget socks and underwear) and roll and store each one in an inexpensive shoe organizer.

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