It’s hard to believe another summer has come and gone, and it’s already time for the kids to return to school. With new class schedules, teachers and bus rides also comes the annual back-to-school expenses. According to bankrate.com, per the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, it costs some $670 to get a child ready to return to school.
What if you could cut that cost in half?
Below are some ideas and tips to not only help you save money on back-to-school expenses this year and beyond, but to also help you plan and prepare to save throughout the school year.
1. Look at last year’s expenditures. A great place to start is to look at how much you spent last year on back-to-school expenses. First, you know you should be able to stay under that amount for this year. Next, consider what was necessary and what expenses could potentially be eliminated to focus on saving for this year.
2. Do a clothing inventory check. Before you go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe for your child, do a thorough inventory check of what he or she currently has in his or her closet. Get rid of any clothes that no longer fit or worn, and then make a list of what’s missing and needed for the upcoming year. You can either donate the clothes, or consider having a yard sale or taking your clothes to a consignment shop for some extra cash to put towards the purchase of new clothes.
3. Make a list. Between clothes and the school supplies required, create a list so you’re clear on what you need. This will help prevent you from buying unnecessary items.
4. Buy in bulk. School supplies, such as pencils and paper, run out and will need to be replaced at some point during the school year. By purchasing these supplies at your local warehouse or club store, you can buy in bulk, which will save you money in the long run. It also means you’ll have plenty of supplies on hand when your child needs them.
5. Use an envelope system. Once you’re clear on what your expenses are, if you use cash and allocate it appropriately by using an envelope system (place the cash in the appropriate envelopes to cover various expenses), you can stay focused and on tack without overspending. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone. This is also a great system to use for ongoing expenses, like school lunches, event tickets, sports fees, etc.
6. Shop for sales. August is a great time to shop for school clothes and supplies, because you can find a lot of end-of-season clearances, as well as back-to-school sales.
7. Budget for the year. Back-to-school time is also the perfect opportunity to plan ahead for the school year, so you don’t have unwanted stress trying to come up with funds or rushing to purchase something last minute. What are some of the ongoing and one-off expenses you know you will encounter throughout the year? Capture those in your household budget, and put the money aside to cover them, so you have the funds handy when you need them.
What are some back-to-school savings tips that have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them!