It’s almost time for the new school year to begin: back to school on budget! Parents are eagerly anticipating it, though children frown at the prospect. Back to school shopping is one of the most important things on your to-do list, whether you’re sending your children back to school or returning yourself. Although back-to-school shopping can be enjoyable, it can also be overwhelming; as there is so much that you or your child would need for a good year ahead. The cost of materials can easily add up as well.
It will necessitate a little strategic course-planning. Before you begin, you will need to complete some homework. You’ll need to think ahead and prepare. But, armed with these back-to-school tips and tricks, you’ll be prepared to navigate the sale with your list in hand and ready to save on back to school specials. You’ll know exactly what you need, how much you can spend, and where to look for each and every thing.
Here are some budget-friendly back-to-school budget tips:
1. Add it all together.
Start by looking over your child’s teachers or school district’s school supply list. Take a look around your house to see what you already have. Before you go out and buy a new wardrobe for your kids, go through their drawers and closets and see what clothing and shoes they still fit into. Remember to include the expenses that aren’t readily apparent when making your chart. Your children will likely become more opinionated on what they want for the new school year as they grow older. Discuss the children’s priorities for them.
Find ways to get everything else for less after you’ve decided on a couple of splurge products. If you already have a surplus of pens, notepads, and files. Before you go out and buy new supplies, go through what you and your kids already have. Is the condition of their crayons acceptable? Do they have a good pencil box? Examine the back-to-school supply list to see what you still need to buy and what you do have and can repurpose. While a school year will last for several months, back-to-school sales only last a few weeks. What would the rest of the year bring? Rather than purchasing products for the coming months, stock up now. Plan ahead of time and purchase what you need now to take advantage of the discounts. The same products would cost more in a few months.
It’s important to set a spending cap that you’re happy with and that covers the essentials. Going shopping for school supplies without a budget would only lead to overspending. You can start pricing things once you have your shopping list together, even if you don’t intend on purchasing something until closer to the start of school. Instead of current sales, focus your budget on daily retail rates. When it comes time to shop, overestimating your expenses will give you some breathing space. Do you have enough money after you’ve calculated how much you expect to spend? If not, you’ll have to make changes. Before you go shopping, make a game plan. It’s all too tempting to spend money on items you don’t need. Request a shopping list from your school or your child’s teacher, if they don’t already have one (and most will), they can at the very least give you advice about what to get. It will make shopping much easier for you and eliminate the guesswork. You’ll just buy what you need while still being well-prepared. If your children still have good quality binders, backpacks, lunchboxes, or pencil cases from last year, give them a new lease on life. Children can enjoy being imaginative and infusing their things with their own unique personalities. Giving an existing item a makeover is much less expensive than purchasing anything new. Not only are supplies cuter than store-bought items, but they’re also easier for your kids to recognize and keep track of because they’re all different. Pens, pencils, notebooks, and files should all be embellished.
It’s tough to save money when you don’t have a lot of time. Challenges to save money will help you save more money than you thought. If you shop with cash, set a budget for yourself to save a certain amount of money each time it comes into your pocket. Maybe you save all of your $5 bills. If you usually pay with a debit card, your money saving challenge could be to round up any payment to the nearest $5 increment and put the difference toward your school expense savings. Alternatively, you might try a game where you don’t have to spend any money at all. Put a 30-day spending freeze in place to free up funds for school supplies.
It is not always necessary to purchase anything on the first day for school. Your children may not need new clothes right away if they are starting school at home through distance learning. Buy the “fun” supplies, such as backpacks and lunchboxes, a few weeks or more later. Putting the spare time to good use will provide you and your children with a shopping spree to look forward to once we’ve regained a sense of normalcy. Earning extra cash will still help to alleviate financial stress. This is especially true during back-to-school season. If your children are older, you might ask them to contribute to a portion of their school costs. Discuss school shopping preferences for your adolescent.
Allow them to share some of the expense of items that are outside of your budget. If you want to save money on back to school supplies for your children, start by looking at what you already have. If your office is anything like mine, you’ve probably already accumulated a sizable collection of pens, notepads, and files. Before you go out and buy something, go through what you and your kids already have. Is the condition of their crayons good? Do they have a good pencil case? Examine the back-to-school supply list to see what you actually need and what you do have and can repurpose.
5. Make a School Costs Sinking Fund.
A sinking fund is a collection of funds that you build up over time to help you break down a big cost into smaller, more manageable chunks. Let’s say you’ve budgeted $600 for the back-to-school season and you’re paying three times before your children start school. You should set aside $200 in your sinking fund each payday to cover upcoming expenses. You will take out less each paycheck if you use money from your current savings to start the sinking fund now. Make school lunches for your children and save a lot of money.
The cost of school lunches is sometimes prohibitive for budgeting. Furthermore, it’s never certain whether or not your children will like and consume the food served to them. If you send your child to school with a lunch and snacks, you can rest assured that they will be satisfied and have a good day. Purchase snacks and sides and repackage them into lunch portions. Carrot sticks, chips, crackers, and other snacks are convenient to take with you. Purchase fruit cups, dried fruit, or clementines that are easy to peel. Lunches with cheese sticks last a long time (even without refrigeration). To encourage kids to eat their vegetables, repackage ranch in smaller containers or look for the dipping-size.