A backpack filled with school supplies.

Every year in July and August, seasonal store aisles overflow with folders, pens, calculators and other school essentials. It’s back-to-school shopping season — time to drag your reluctant kiddos to the store to purchase everything they need for the upcoming school year.

But have you ever noticed that come later in the fall or winter, you’re back at the store doing a second school supply run, even though you grabbed everything on your list just a few months ago? This time, those prime back-to-school deals are long gone, and your grand total might be way more for way less stuff.

Luckily, you can make the most of your school supply shopping trips, even after the end-of-summer rush is over. Here are seven smart strategies to help you save.

1. Search clearance sales, bargain bins and dollar stores

Many retailers frequently offer seasonal clearance sales to move excess inventory. Always check to see whether these sales include school or office supplies. Also, look out for clearance items thrown into bargain bins or tucked on the backside of the aisles (the end caps).

While the products you discover in these areas likely won’t be the hot-ticket items everyone wanted in August, you can still find good deals on supplies your kids can use, such as notebooks, folders, calculators and highlighters.

And don’t forget about the dollar store! It’s a great place to find school supplies year-round, including items you might not expect, such as poster boards, binders and pencil cases.

2. Negotiate prices

Many major retailers will match a price you find on Amazon and select online stores for an item on their shelves. Just make sure you read the fine print of each retailer’s price match policy. Many have specific rules for their price guarantees, such as that the item must be in stock on both the retailer’s website and their competitor’s website at the same time.

Price adjusting is another alternative. Some brands and retailers will refund the difference for an item that’s now discounted if you previously bought it at full price. But keep in mind there’s a time limit on price adjustments — typically within 14 days or less.

3. Use promo codes for online purchases

You don’t only have to shop brick-and-mortar stores to land a back-to-school shopping deal. You can find promo codes or printable coupons on different savings and coupon aggregator sites. Using these resources is a great way to save on bigger purchases or items your kids might use for the new school year and beyond, such as shoes, clothing, eyewear, tablets and laptops.

Keep in mind that these deals are often time-sensitive, so you’ll only have a short period to use a specific promo code before it expires. On top of regularly checking these aggregator sites, subscribe to your favorite retailers’ email lists for exclusive coupon codes and upcoming deals.

4. Reuse and repurpose

Any parent understands the beauty of hand-me-downs. Like clothes, school supplies also can be reused and repurposed. Take backpacks, for example. They can be washed and spruced up with crochet stitching or adhesive vinyl. If you’re into crafting, this could be a fun project to do with your kids. And you never know: They might prefer to have something personalized and unique rather than something store-bought.

Community swaps are another way to save. These events allow you to barter with neighbors and friends and trade for the items you need (they’re also a good way to declutter). Search local parents’ groups on social media or group email lists in your area for community swaps, or consider organizing one yourself. If there isn’t an upcoming event, post in one of these groups to offer the items you have and see if another parent would like to trade for the things you still need.

5. Explore secondhand options

Along with reusing items, take advantage of refurbished items. Buying previously used electronics is one way to save big. Many big-box retailers and online marketplaces offer refurbished or open-box tablets and computers. A simple web search should turn up these products.

Make sure to research the product’s condition, and consider purchasing a protection plan. All in, this still could end up being cheaper than buying the item new.

6. Take advantage of student discounts

Many brands and retailers offer student discounts. If you have a college student who needs a laptop or tablet, Apple offers discounts for new college students and their parents. Amazon also offers a discounted Prime membership for students. Prime boasts deals on a range of back-to-school essentials and discounted subscriptions for online learning platforms that contain study resources, like CourseHero.

7. Create budget-friendly school lunches

Notebooks, pens and clothes aren’t the only things you’ll need to continually buy during the school year. You might also like to pack your kids’ lunches every day.

Groceries are already a big part of every family’s budget — adding the cost of lunchbox items could be a budget buster. Don’t buy the expensive products marketed specifically for school lunches, such as lunch kits and individual bags of chips. Instead, when shopping for and planning family dinners for the week, consider buying enough to send your kids to school with dinner leftovers.

Also, check out store brands, buy in bulk and shop the deals on the front of the grocery circulars to save on ingredients. The items on the front of the circulars — which are sometimes cheaper than what the store actually paid for these items — often change each week, but typically you’ll find budget-friendly proteins, like chicken breast. This is one item you can use in countless ways for dinner and then pack away in containers for delicious and healthy school lunches, like chicken salad sandwiches or chicken BLTs.

Another option is to join your town’s CSA, or community-supported agriculture program, to save on fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods. CSAs are often a more affordable option for organic foods than what you’d find in a grocery store.

Maximize school savings year-round

Getting back in the swing of things for the school season can be a hectic and expensive time for most families. But smart shopping can help you save both in-store and online. Search the clearance bins, check out your local dollar store and use promo codes, digital coupons, and cash back offers from Coupons.com to get discounts on back-to-school essentials. Explore price matching or price adjustments to save even after you’ve made your back-to-school purchases.

And if you’ve exhausted these options, consider bartering with another parent to get rid of items you’ve had stashed away in your closet in exchange for clothing and supplies that are still on your shopping list. By taking advantage of these creative strategies, you can save big and keep a little extra money in your pocket this school year.

Be a smarty-pants this school year by checking out deals and more savvy money-saving tips on Coupons.com.