The first day of school is upon us! No doubt shopping for new clothes, notebooks, and shiny new electronics is expensive. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, parents spend nearly $690 to get one child ready for the new school year. The surveyed parents report that they spend an average of:
- $240 on clothing.
- $204 on electronics.
- $130 on shoes.
- $115 on school supplies.
These amounts are staggering! Particularly for families who are struggling financially and/or have multiple school-aged children.
Follow these 6 Back to School Savings Tips to reduce the cost of the new school year while still ensuring your kid has everything she needs to hit the education-ground running.
- Set a budget. Stick to the budget.
Be clear about what you will spend, and do not spend more than that. A basic tenet of good financial management is creating a budget and sticking to it. It’s no different when it comes to back-to-school spending.
First purchase the non-negotiable items, including the class list of required supplies. Second, decide which other items are important versus items that may be desirable, but not as critical. After mandatory items are purchased, allocate the remainder of your budget to important items first, then desirable items if any budget remains.
- Keep it simple: cash in an envelope.
To easily stick to your budget, put the budgeted amount of cash in an envelope. There is no risk of overcharging on credit cards when you stick to cash. Make sure to use separate envelopes for each child.
This is also an opportunity to teach older kids about budgeting and how to decide what items are most important. Younger kids can also understand that once the money in the envelope is gone, nothing else can be purchased.
- Take inventory and keep clothes that still fit.
Clothing is the largest expense of back-to-school shopping. To keep the costs of new clothing reasonable, make a comprehensive list of the items your child needs. Then, go through your child’s entire closet and drawers. Mark the items that fit and are not worn out on the inventory list.
While this may seem cumbersome, it is an opportunity to clean out your kid’s closet, donate clothes that no longer fit to charity, and save money on back-to-school!
- Buy school supplies in bulk.
Buy things like pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, and printer paper in bulk. You will spend more upfront on supplies, but generally buying in bulk is less expensive. Plus, you will save gas money and hassle by avoiding future trips to the store.
Check Costco, Sam’s Club, or other bulk retailers for good deals on bulk school supplies!
- Compare online prices.
Consider what can be purchased online for less money that in the store. Keep an eye out for free shipping. Also, consider what items may be purchased used. Perhaps you can snag used books from Amazon for far less than the new cover price. Or, check eBay for gently loved calculators or other school electronics.
- Peruse thrift stores and garage sales.
Thrift stores and garage sales are chock full of back-to-school goodies. Gently used supplies like backpacks or school supplies will be new to your child, but sold at a fraction of the cost. Plus, this is an opportunity to teach children about the benefits of reusing things and not being wasteful.
We hope these back-to-school savings tips help you and we wish you and your family a rewarding and fun new school year!
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The Law Office of Barbara B. Braziel helps people get out of debt. We offer free consultations to people of Savannah, GA and the surrounding areas, including Richmond Hill, Hinesville, Pooler, Port Wentworth, Tybee Island, Clyo, Ellabel, Midway, Ludowici, Springfield, Pembroke, Brooklet, and Garden City.
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