Tips to Keep Your Back-to-School Budget on Track
- Assess what is needed
Start with the list of requested school supplies provided by your child’s teacher(s) or school district. Take inventory of what supplies you already have at home. Go through your kid’s clothes and shoes to see what fit before going out to buy a new wardrobe. When creating your list, don’t forget the costs that aren’t obvious. For example, will you need to buy uniforms or equipment for sports or other after-school activities? Will your child need a physical before heading back to school?
- Figure out which expenses you can delay
You don’t always have to buy everything in time for the first day. Your kids may not need new clothes right away, especially if the weather is still warm and they don’t have to wear fall clothes yet. If you can, hold off a few weeks or more on buying the “fun” supplies, like new backpacks and lunchboxes. Retailers often will have great discounts after the back-to-school rush has died down and they are trying to get rid of that merchandise.
- Establish a spending limit
It’s important to create a spending limit you’re comfortable with and that covers the basics. Shopping for school supplies without a budget will only set you up for overspending.
- Start setting money aside with each paycheck
Break your large expense into more affordable chunks with each payday before school starts. Setting up an automatic transfer in digital banking will help you save money in your back-to-school fund without even thinking about it.
- Be a smart shopper
Between now and the start of school, you’ll encounter enough sales promotions that it would be foolish to pay full retail price for anything. In addition to taking advantage of great deals, here are some other smart back-to-school shopping strategies to keep in mind:
- Buy generic
- Compare prices online
- Shop discount stores
- Buy items in bulk
- Take advantage of coupons, rebate sites or cash-back apps
- Sign up for emails to save a percentage at retail stores
The older your children get, the more opinionated they’ll probably be about what they want for the new school year. Talk to your kids about the cost of their school supplies and ask what is most important to them. After identifying a couple select splurge items, find ways to get everything else for less. It’s a great way to teach your kids how to budget.