The first day of school is fast approaching, and Americans are expected to spend 83.6 billion in 2017 on their back to school budget for both grade school and university student supplies. While the cost can stretch your wallet whether you’ve planned for it or not, we’ve discovered some ways that can help you cut costs. After all, every little bit helps!
Create a list
You should start back to school shopping as soon as possible by creating a list of what each of your children needs for the new school year. Sort through teachers’ supply lists, what clothes and shoes they might have grown out of, and what their favorite supplies are. Writing everything down early will ensure that you don’t end up spending money on items that are not needed.
Search your home
Take your list and search your home—you may find that you have a scientific calendar already or unused notebooks from the previous year. This is also a great time to take inventory of your children’s closets to see what still fits or what can be passed down. Walking into a department with a plan will keep you from buying another pair of tennis shoes or jeans that your child already owns.
Swap with friends
Maybe you need a special book for a class that a neighbor’s child took last year, or you only need a special calculator for a year and you don’t want to invest in one. Asking friends or neighbors with older children is a great way to avoid spending your school budget on items you won’t need long term. You could also consider hosting a swap party with books, gently worn clothes, and unopened school supplies.
Plan for the best deals
Once you have your list ready, you need to figure out where and when the best deals are. Shop around local stores and online for school supplies; you may be able to order something online if your child doesn’t need it until a few weeks after school starts. You could also consider buying immediate necessities before to school starts and waiting until after the rush dies down. Only 3% of Americans plan on waiting until after school starts to go shopping—you may end up with smaller crowds and better deals.
The first few weeks of school are usually warm, so it’s likely your child won’t need fall and winter clothes until October. The end of September and October are often slow retail times, and you can get better deals on clothes your kid doesn’t need right away if you hit the sale racks then
Shop with a purpose
Find a time to go shopping that is the least stressful—you don’t want to feel overwhelmed and lose track of your list. Also, decide who needs to be with you. Would bringing your kids to the supplies store cause them to beg for unneeded supplies or treats? Could bringing your son along while jean shopping for your daughter leave you distracted? Lastly, make sure your school budget is clear to everyone involved.
Going back-to-school doesn’t need to be stressful when you plan ahead. Tell us in the comments what back to school budgeting and money saving tips you use.