In our household there is always a set of mixed emotions that go along with going back to school. Normally, the kids are happy -albeit a little nervous and even anxious some of the time to go back and of course having summer come to an end is never fun for them. As parents, we are also typically torn between being excited and hopeful for them as well as being a bit nervous too.
However, no matter how old your children are, whether they are entering into kindergarten or post-secondary education, one thing remains the same – you can expect to fork out A LOT of money in terms of back-to-school expenses.
With that being said, budgeting for these expenses will be an extremely important part of this process and with some out of the box thinking and preparation, you can aim to lower the all-around anxiety and nerves that are associated with going back to school – and even save some money at the same time.
Tips to Help Budget for Back to School Expenses
1) Planning Ahead
Buying school supplies and clothes for your children can definitely add up and as they move up the grade levels, typically these expenses can become more costly. Making a list of what your children will need for the next school year can sometimes take place during the summer time and even at the end of the previous school term – and this way you will have more time to budget for these expenses over the summer months.
While it is probably true that you and your children will not want to school-focused thinking to take away from the summer – as some down time from this is necessary in order to fully enjoy your summer, it is still a good idea to plan ahead and give it some thought. Also it’s important to think about what you will spend money on because some may also be tax deductible – yes, you heard me right! Ultimately, you can take some time thinking about what you will need to buy as well as how much to save for and this can help you to be more prepared and less overwhelmed when the school season actually arrives.
2) Knowing When to Buy
While certain school-related items will only be available or no doubt in higher supply at specific times of the year, there may be times where you can make some of these purchases during the off-season and in turn save money. School supplies can be purchased at the end of the school year or even during the summer – and summer/end of-school sales may also be available for you.
Regarding clothes, sometimes it may not be an option for items to be purchased ahead of time as your child may grow out of them before the school season starts, however another way to approach this is to go through your children’s closets and find the items that they have that still fits and determine if come items are still suitable for the upcoming year. After surveying their clothing supply, you can look to buy a couple of nice new outfits for them, getting them started with those items instead of forking out money for an entirely new wardrobe. This method allows you to wait a little while until certain items go on sale later in the fall, the end of September for example and as you make your purchases at that point in time – you can take advantage of some great sales.
3) Purchasing School Items Online
Again, while this shopping avenue may not be an option for all types of back to school supplies and attire, there are plenty of online stores that sell a variety of clothing styles that your children are sure to love. Sometimes in fact, online stores will offer certain sales and promotions that are not available to in-store customers – so online shopping int this case can be a lot less pricey.
If, on the other hand you are worried about having to pay high shipping fees, one tip that I have learned during all of my shopping travels, is that many stores provide the option of ordering your clothes (or supplies) from their online website and then having them shipped to the store. This helps you avoid having to pay the shopping costs altogether and when your items arrive in the store – you simply go and pick them up at at their closest location.
4) Purchasing School Items Second Hand
In most cities and towns there are also a variety of stores that sell second hand clothing that has been gently worn and is still in great condition. Many times these items have never been used and come with the price tags still attached and the original packing still untouched. If you are shopping for clothing, in particular there are second hand stores that sell a range of clothing geared towards child, especially because children grow out of their clothes very quickly and many parents will be in the boat as you. This enables you to save money, while also being able to donate your gently used clothing to help other families with their back to school purchases. Clothing consignment stores also allow consumers to sell their clothing and make some money to put towards their future clothing purchases – as well as simply having some extra money in their wallets.
If you are also on the lookout for reduced school supplies, such as binders, paper, and even writing utensils, many thrift stores have these items as well. While some of them may be gently used, there are often binders still in the plastic, as well as packages of unopened paper, pencils, crayons, pens, and so on. A binder, for example that may cost anywhere from $5.00 to $20.00 regularly priced, can be found for closer to $1.00 – $3.00 at a second hand thrift store. Buying these items can help you to effectively save money on school supplies, as these items – often having to be purchased in multiple quantities can really add up.
With these strategies in mind, it is still a good idea to come to a realistic budget amount that will adequately help you cover these back-to-school costs. If you can save more than what is necessary – and then end of saving some money based on these frugal approaches, then this is an added bonus for you!
Setting a spending limit before you start your back-to-school shopping will also help make sure you don’t exceed your budget. Involving your child in the back to school shopping process is also a good way to encourage them to learn how to manage their own spending as they get older.