Secure Your Finances This Fall

Jul 2, 2024


Essential Back-to-School Budgeting Tips

Back-to-school season can be financially challenging, regardless of whether your students are in elementary school, college, or anywhere in between. It’s crucial to budget carefully to manage these expenses effectively and give your students the best start to their academic year. Here’s how you can achieve that:

Importance of Budgeting

Budgeting isn’t about depriving yourself; it’s about strategizing so you can afford the things you truly need and want. Education is a critical expense category, so creating a good budget ensures you can cover all necessary school supplies.

Start with Tracking

Begin by tracking your spending from last year. Look up old bank and credit card statements to understand your typical back-to-school expenses. If you’re unsure where to start, consider national averages. The National Retail Federation estimates the average family spends $696.70 on back-to-school expenses. Aim to spend less than this average.

Creating Your Budget

  • Write It Down: Plan your spending in advance and put it in writing. Stick to your budget and only adjust it when absolutely necessary.
  • Plan Purchases: Don’t just budget for total spending; plan specific items to buy. Inventory what you already have to avoid unnecessary purchases.
  • Comparison Shop: Use websites, newspaper ads, and consider less obvious retailers like office supply stores and dollar stores for school supplies.

Finding Discounts

  • Price Matching: Many stores will match prices of similar items from other retailers.
  • Coupons: Use online and newspaper coupons to stretch your dollar.
  • Sales Events: Watch for sales events to get significant savings.
  • Retailer Apps and Emails: Download retailer apps and sign up for emails to receive special offers and discounts.
  • Social Media: Follow retailers on social media for sales announcements.
  • Tax-Free Weekends: Take advantage of tax holidays for additional savings on big-ticket items like computers.

Plan for Ongoing Expenses

Keep in mind that expenses don’t end once school starts. Budget for school lunches, after-school sports, and club dues. Save some of your budget for these ongoing costs.

Cooking and Shopping Tips

  • Cook More: Preparing meals at home is healthier and more cost-effective.
  • Shop Alone If Necessary: If shopping with kids leads to overspending, consider shopping alone to stick to your budget.

Keep Records

Track your spending this year to help create a more effective budget next year. Use your smartphone to keep notes on spending and set reminders for next year’s planning.

Dealing with Debt

If back-to-school shopping has led to credit card debt, consult a credit coach to create a plan to pay it off before holiday shopping begins. Taking control of your finances now will ensure a smoother financial journey through the rest of the year and beyond.

By following these smart budgeting tips, you can navigate the back-to-school season with confidence and ease, setting your students up for success without breaking the bank. Happy shopping!