Yes, it's that time of year again. We all know the mixed feelings of excitement and dread that come with our last month of freedom before we're back in the classroom. However, this also means shopping for everything from crayons to clothes to be ready for the next school year. Before you leave to buy the must-haves on your list, make sure to follow these steps to smart shopping for this August.

1. Check out what you already have

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One of the first shopping mistakes to avoid is also one of the most common: buying something similar to what you already have. Therefore, a crucial step to take before shopping is checking what you really need, and even making a list to keep track of the items you can't go without this school year.

2. Set a budget

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It's so easy to spend way too much money buying new school supplies. So, make sure to look at how much money you're working with to ensure you have enough to take back to school after you buy your supplies.

3. Use rewards cards

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The best way to save some cash is to use rewards points from stores. Whether you use your card to redeem points you already had saved up or stock up more points for future purchases, rewards cards are a must-have.

4. Check for the best sales

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Even if you want your first school shopping experience to be at your favorite stores, you should check what most stores are willing to give back. Many stores are going to offer special deals in August for this very reason, so be sure to make the best of them!

5. Check the shipping date

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If you're thinking to order online, make sure your items will get to you before the start of school. This is especially important if you're going away to college, as you'll want to have your things before you move out.

6. Don’t jump into the DIYS

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Whether you're looking to decorate your dorm or create a unique notebook cover, make sure that the project is worth your money and time. As fun as these Pinterest projects may seem, they are a commitment.

7. Check the return policy.

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Another important store rule to find out for your back-to-school shopping is to find out if you can return any items you bought. This policy is a good one to know just in case you buy something damaged.

Everyone wants their first days back at school to be as stress-free as possible. By following these seven steps, you can take the first step toward a great year.