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Back to school is the second busiest shopping season of the year, with the average American family spending a whopping $634 on school supplies according to the National Retail Federation. With a new school year around the corner, approximately 86 million students from pre-kindergarten to college are about to begin the next chapter of their academic career. As they gear up, families of children of all ages can save for college on their back-to-school purchases with five percent or more from hundreds of popular online merchants through Upromise by Sallie Mae. No matter what the family budget is, there are always ways to make a dollar go farther.

Upromise by Sallie Mae helps families start the academic year off right by making it easy to add little by little to the college fund,” said John Ward, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. It brings together more than 950 popular online retailers such as,,,, and to help families save for college when they need to spend. With five percent back on those purchases made through savings could add up to $32. With the Upromise World MasterCard, families could double that and set aside an average of $64 dollars in college savings.

Before hitting the books, here are tips to shop and stay smart this upcoming school year, the experts recommend:

Plan ahead – before you begin shopping for back to school, gather your school supply lists and take an inventory of items you already have.

Create a budget – monitor your spending and involve your children so they know the boundaries and benefits of budgeting.

Research sales and deals – scope out online sales and deals to get the best bang for your buck. Download RewardU, a free toolbar that reminds you of cash back opportunities from Upromise and alerts you to additional coupons and deals.

Create a family calendar – post a calendar in the kitchen or family room to keep track of extracurricular activities and school project deadlines.

Reach out to new roommates – as the approximately two thirds of the high school class of 2013 become college freshmen, they can save by coordinating with their new roommates before heading off to campus. There is no need for two dorm refrigerators, microwaves or televisions in a tight space.

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