(BPT) - Just as everyone is settling into summer, parents around the country suddenly realize that the start of another school year is right around the corner. The back-to-school season seems to start just as the last school year ends! This year, rather than getting caught off guard, be prepared with some tips to reduce mental and financial stress.

Create a back-to-school budget

Most parents believe that school costs are increasing and 70 percent of them create a budget to better manage these rising costs, according to a Coinstar back-to-school survey. When making a budget, consider required school supplies and clothing as well as additional costs that may be incurred throughout the school year for activities such as a science fair or field trips. If your child participates in music or sports, be sure to add these anticipated costs into the budget, too.

Take a bite out of back-to-school costs

Get creative to reduce stress and the strain on household finances. For example, collect spare change from around your home and bring it to your local Coinstar kiosk to convert it to cash or a no-fee eGift card. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can add up to offset expenses. Then, try shopping at second-hand or discount stores for items like a gently used backpack or discounted coats. Finally, check out community sites like Nextdoor, which can be a great resource to find used items or provide an opportunity to swap musical instruments, sports equipment or clothing with neighbors.

Begin back-to-school shopping early

You don’t want to cut your summer short, but waiting until the last minute to shop can cause unnecessary stress. Make a list of essentials, including school supplies and clothing, and start shopping early to take advantage of better selection and sales. What’s more, you’ll beat the pre-school shopping rush. While most parents report shopping at big-box retailers for back-to-school, consider online shopping as well for price comparisons and added convenience.

Shopping alone may keep you on budget

The majority of parents prefer to shop with their children for back-to-school supplies and clothing. However, about half of parents who responded to a Coinstar survey said that they spend more when shopping with their children compared to only one-third who exceed their budget when shopping without kids in tow. Therefore, consider going it alone and stick to a list to stay within your budget.

Mentally prepare for back-to-school

Summer vacation is a great time for families to relax and take advantage of the long days. Pushing bedtime to a later hour and sleeping in is the summer norm. To prepare yourself and your kids for the new school year, start your evening and morning routines a couple of weeks early so everyone can adjust. You want your kids to be well rested and ready to go on day one. It’s also a good idea to talk with your children about the new school year so that you can understand their mindset and address any potential worries or concerns.

For more information about turning your coins into cash or a no-fee eGift card, visit www.coinstar.com today.

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