It’s almost time for kids to be going back to school, and back-to-school shopping can be hard on your wallet and can be a huge expense when it comes to spending money on the kids. Buying new school supplies, clothes, shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and electronics adds up quickly and can be expensive. Here are 6 tips on how to budget for back to school.
1. Set a Budget
You probably knew I would say this first. It’s important to set a budget so you don’t overspend or go into debt. Set a dollar amount that you can afford for each child for all of the back-to-school necessities and don’t spend more than the set amount. To help you plan ahead, determine how much you spend on back-to-school items each year and set aside money each month for these back-to-school expenses. Since school will be back in session soon, you can still begin saving money now from each paycheck over the next month or two to help with the costs.
2. Shop at Home
Shop at home first by walking around the house and seeing what items you have that are on your children’s school lists. Rulers, backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil boxes or pencil sharpeners don’t need to be replaced if they are still in good condition. Once you know what items are still in good condition, write a list of items you still need to purchase. Every year, I stock up on school supplies when they are on sale and have a container in my basement where I keep them. When I receive the school supplies list, I go downstairs and am able to collect many of the items on the list.
3. Plan with Your Kids
Plan a back-to-school shopping trip with you kids by first sitting down with each child and creating a list of what school supplies and clothes are needed for the school year. Discuss the items that they need and what they want. This can be an opportunity to teach your children to understand needs from wants. An example list could include: 2 new pants, 5 new shirts, 1 sweatshirt, 1 jacket, 2 pair of shoes and a new backpack. If you have a list when you go shopping together, your children will be less likely to ask for everything they see, and it will be easier to say no.
4. Shop the Sales
Watch the weekly sales ads closely and then head to those stores to purchase the best deals on school supplies. Don’t purchase all of your school supplies at one store, just buy the best deals, such as those $0.25 crayons or $0.20 notebooks, and leave the store. Continue to watch for more sales and buy what’s on sale each week. If you shop at a store that offers price matching, you’ll be able to save time by not running around to other stores.
You might be tempted to purchase extra school supplies or additional clothes for your kids, but this could be bad for your back-to-school budget. Stick to your shopping list and only buy what you need so you don’t go over your budget.
5. Be Patient
Wait to go shopping for clothes and additional back-to-school supplies until after school starts, then shop the back-to-school clearance sales to get an even better deal on clothes and back-to-school supplies. I know it’s hard for kids to not have all new outfits the first week of school, so maybe compromise and get one new outfit that you find on sale or purchase with coupons, but then wait until after school starts to get the rest of the items.
6. Go Shopping and Allow Children to Make Shopping Decisions
Make this an enjoyable and fun outing with your children. Allow them to help with shopping decisions, but teach them to find deals and look at the sales. If they really want expensive name brand jeans, then shop at second hand stores for some of the other clothing. Explain to them that if they end up going over budget, then they will need to use their money to pay for the school items. Those expensive name brand jeans might not be as important to them if they realize they have to pay for them. This is a great opportunity to help them learn how to budget.
What are ways you budget for back to school?
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