By Rachel Cruze

Can you feel it? Fall is right around the corner, and that means itís back-to-school time!

Hopefully, you havenít waited until the last minute and you have most of your shopping done. If not, thatís OK! Here are a few guidelines as you get everything together for your childís first day back in the classroom.

1. Make a budget . . . and stick to it. Whether youíre heading to Target this afternoon or a week from now, you need to make sure all your back-to-school costs are included in your monthly budget. And if youíre not in the habit of making a monthly budget, well, this is a great opportunity to get a little practice! Budgeting tools, such as the free, will help you make a budget you can actually stick to.

2. Focus on needs, not wants. Your 8-year-old might want the fancy Lightning McQueen backpack, but that doesnít mean they need it ó especially if itís $20 more than a basic backpack. Iím not saying you canít make back-to-school shopping fun, but donít overspend just because your kid throws a fit in the backpack aisle.

3. Keep it simple. Remember, you just need the basics to get started ó not everything youíll need for the entire school year. If money is tight, buy the minimum your child needs right now, then work the rest into your budget over the next few months.

4. Talk with your kidís teachers. If you havenít received a list of items your child needs for the upcoming year, be sure to touch base with the school and reach out to the teacher. Most schools are pretty good about covering this type of information at orientation or open house, so hopefully youíll have the information you need well before you head out to shop.

†5. Look around online. Some of the best deals are online. Start with Amazon, then do some research and see what else you might be able to order without leaving home. You might consider buying pencils, paper, and other items that you donít necessarily need to see before you buy. You might save money, and youíll definitely save time.

Itís not too late to make sure youíre doing back-to-school shopping the right way. Make a budget, keep your priorities in check, and donít let the little ones talk you into buying stuff they donít really need.

Use back-to-school as a great opportunity to get your finances in order before the holiday season hits in a few months.

Rachel Cruze is a #1 New York Times best-selling author and seasoned communicator, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Sheís authored two best-selling books: Love Your Life, Not Theirs and Smart Money Smart Kids, which she co-wrote with her father, Dave Ramsey. You can follow Cruze on Twitter and Instagram at @RachelCruze and online at†, YouTube, or Facebook.