Summer is winding down, the days are slowly getting shorter, and if you’re a parent, that means one thing – back-to-school season is upon us. Regardless of whether you prep in advance or if you’re doing most of your shopping right before the first day of school, this time of year is known for a bunch of additional expenses. More schools are requiring parents to provide their children with more expensive supplies, and if you’ve got growing kids, you’re likely going to need to take them clothes and shoe shopping as well.
One of the benefits of back-to-school season are the sales and coupons that you’ll find stuffed into your mailbox. But regardless, there are a number of ways to ensure you shop smartly for your kids’ back-to-school needs, all while staying in your budget range.
Start with a specific “back to school” budget.
Create this budget separate from your regular budget, as it accounts for expenditures outside the realm of your day-to-day spending. This will help you stay on track, so if you need a more expensive purchase like a computer or laptop, you won’t break the bank. Also, it’s good to aim to come in under budget once you’ve bought everything you need.
Ask yourself if you really need something before you buy it.
It’s incredibly easy to get lured in by the shiny new backpacks, binders, and other new school supplies. However, you can save a lot of money by assessing whether you actually need something. For instance, if your child’s backpack from last year is in good shape, don’t focus on buying a new one right away.
Pack lunches instead of giving your kids lunch money.
It can be tempting to just give your kids a few dollars to buy lunch rather than taking the time to prepare lunches in advance. However, you can save a lot of money throughout the school year by packing lunches for your kids. Consider spending money on reusable plastic food storage containers, as well as insulated lunch bags to keep lunches cool.
Start planning ahead for next year.
If you have the means to do so, it’s never a bad time to plan for back-to-school season for next year. If you find a great deal on notebooks or pens, consider stocking up extra to use down the road. Keep an eye out for sales – you can sign up for emails from most big retailers, and you likely already get ads in the mail.