Welcome WTHR Weekend Sunrise Viewers: Back to School Budgeting Basics

Don't know where to begin with Back to School Shopping? Start with these basic budget tips from @thequeenoffree

Catch me tomorrow morning on WTHR Weekend Sunrise at 7:45 AM! Here’s a sneak peek of some of the money saving tips I’ll share.

Whether we want to live in denial or not, the Back to School Shopping Season is in full swing. From sports physicals to book fees, from clothes & shoes to supplies, many parents are under both financial and time demands more this time of year than any others. For those families beginning a “balanced calendar” this year, it feels even more overwhelming than usual as the start date creeps a bit closer into the summer months. But the good news is, kids go back to school every year {there is nothing new under the sun} and you can find ways to save! Here are some very basic Back to School Budgeting ideas sure to grant both shopping and academic success this school year.

1) Take An Inventory. Hooray, you have a lot already! Beginning with a mindset of wealth rather than poverty can curb your spending. I can guarantee many of the things you need are already in your possession {or at least a good start}. So block off this afternoon and begin to take note of the items – both clothing & supplies that you already have at home. Clean out the closets and drawers. Try on clothes, see what fits & what doesn’t and most importantly LIST OUT everything. This will keep you from overspending. Do the same thing with reusable school supplies. I’m not suggesting you send your kids back to school with broken pencils & worn down crayons but items like backpacks, lunch boxes, rulers, scissors, and jump drives can all be used for more than one school year.

2) Check the List & Make Your Own. Before you hit the big box retail aisles, be sure to know your child’s supply list for their specific classroom. Many schools have already placed these lists on their websites {or you might have even been given a list at the end of the year}. So find the list and then go on a treasure hunt in your own house {checking the cabinets & last year’s supplies} to see what you already have and then check it off. Use this list & the written inventory for clothes and supplies to create your own Back to School Hit List.

3) Use CASH. Ay yi yi, you’ve heard me say one miiiiillllllliiiiooon times but you will ALWAYS spend less cash if you use cash rather than plastic {even if it’s debit}. Cash ensures a boundary around your budget that will hedge you in to spending exactly what you intend to spend and not a penny more. Plus it can be a great learning lesson for the kids. We have enough cash for this, but not that or two of these but only one of those.

4) Write Down Every Penny You Spend. This tip is really more for next year than it is this fall. Do your future self a favor. You need to write down every Back to School expense, to the penny. From book fees to PTO, from gym suits to new shoes, from school supplies to classroom extras, write it all down and keep good records. Then when you budget for next academic year, you don’t have to choose a pie in the sky number, you have evidence of how much it costs to begin the school year. It’s also a good idea to look at next year’s textbook fees now to get a good estimate of what you’ll be spending.

5) When You Can, Buy Extras. If your cash budget allows, purchase extra school supplies now that you’ll use later in the year. There is no better time of year to purchase office and school supplies. Your child will need new markers. She will rip up a folder. Notebook paper will run out. So if you have a little wiggle room, make good use of the rock bottom prices and create a small stockpile for the rest of the year. Also it’s wise to purchase items like posterboard now while they’re a bit cheaper so you’re not out in the middle of the night looking for it when a child’s special project arises.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk specific strategies when it comes to school supplies, uniforms & clothes, and helping your teen or tween budget their own school spending, but hopefully these introductory basics will launch your journey into the Back to School Season. Don’t get caught up in the hype and take a deep breath. Back to School comes around at least once a year and you’ve survived before. It’s going to be ok. :)