Ways to save at the start of the school year

(BPT) - The new school year is officially here, and although it's an exciting fresh start for students and parents alike, it may also cause you financial stress. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the back-to-school season is the second largest shopping season of the year, after the holiday season. And for good reason - on top of the usual need for clothing and shoes that growing kids require at the start of every school year, parents and caregivers must also cope with lengthy school supply lists.

Fortunately, a one-stop online retailer like Amazon lets you conveniently shop for your child's school needs without breaking the bank as it offers a wide selection of classroom supplies, clothing and other essentials at low prices. To save even more this school year, you can also sign up for a Prime membership, giving you exclusive deals and benefits on everything from shopping for last-minute must-haves, to streaming your favorite shows on the weekends.

Here are a few tips to ensure you and your children have a happy school year, filled with success and savings:

1. Sign up for Amazon's discounted Prime membership. If you or your child are an EBT or Medicaid recipient, you could qualify for an Amazon Prime membership for the discounted price of just $5.99 per month. Members receive all standard Prime benefits, including exclusive deals, access to thousands of movies, TV shows, and music, plus over a thousand top Kindle e-books for adults and kids - to read on any device, as well free one-day delivery (or even faster) and much more. You can learn more, apply for the discount and try a 30-day free trial at amazon.com/qualify.

2. Shop later to score deals. Don't fret if you have yet to do your back-to-school shopping - it's actually beneficial to wait until after your child's first week of school before you shop, as that's when you can take advantage of more deals and savings. You can track the best deals on Amazon with Lightning Deals, with daily offers to help you save money. Lightning Deals allow you to find the best prices on items you need, want and love. You can also sign up for 'watch a deal' alerts, so you'll never miss out on a discount!

3. Shop with cash. Making purchases with cash is a savvy way to stick to your budget, as it makes you more conscious of what you're spending. If you find that this works well for you, you can use Amazon Cash instead of your debit or credit card when shopping online. Simply visit one of the more than 45,000 participating stores - including pharmacies like CVS, and convenience stores like 7-Eleven - to add cash to your Amazon balance.

4. Take advantage of discounts on frequent orders. From germ-fighting hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes, to personal care items like toothpaste, hand soap, shampoo and more, there are countless everyday essentials you'll need throughout the school year. With Amazon's Subscribe & Save, you can subscribe to the items you frequently buy and have them shipped to you on a regular basis. You'll not only save up to 15% on these purchases, but also save time and energy going back and forth to the store. Plus, Prime members can unlock up to 20% on purchases to save even more.

5. Be a bargain shopper. Everyone loves a deal, and now some incredible bargains are just one click away. Check out Amazon's Bargain Finds for a wide selection of seasonally relevant products that are priced even lower. Items vary from school essentials like backpacks, lunch bags, water bottles and electronics, to clothing, household products and fun gifts - perfect for teachers. Before paying full price for an item, browse through these bargains to see if you can find what you need for a lower price.

With a little planning and preparation - and Amazon on your side - your family and your budget will both be set up for a successful school year.

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