I know it feels like summer began yesterday but for us the cold hard truth blazes back on the calendar. School starts in just over two weeks. Whether you have days or months to go, there are plenty of things to do to make sure you don’t overspend as your kids head back to the classroom. Check out my 5 favorite Back to School Budget Hacks!
1) Inventory at Home
I feel like I preach this point over and over again. One of the biggest back to school budget busters comes in the form of overbuying. Overbuying results when you don’t have an accurate hold on what you already own. The two main areas you need to know what you really need are 1) Clothes and 2) School supplies. Clean out the closet and drawers, the old backpacks and the cabinets. Have your classroom supply list handy and check off the items you already have. Make a list of what wardrobe gaps need filled, too.
2) Investigate Last Year’s Spending
I’m so thankful for our Quicken software. It makes it easy to remember exactly what we spent on back to school last year so we can set an accurate and able budget for this year. Check through your records to evaluate all of the expenses coming your way in the next month or two. Don’t forget text book rental fees, PTO dues, uniform or sports costs, school supplies, and technology fees. This year especially if you use a piece of software to record your spending, tag each back to school expense so that you can easily sort for next year.
3) Institute a Budget
Once you’ve inventoried and investigated what you’ve spent in the prior year, you need to institute a budget for your back to school spending. Set an overall amount and then break that dollar figure down into categories. Consider the following potential breakdowns:
- School Supplies
- School Fees
- Backpacks and/or lunch boxes
- Personal care items
With tweens and teens, you may consider allowing them to manage their own money when it comes to clothing. You may need to give some guidance, but back to school shopping can be a great way to begin teaching your kids about money. One more thing, you always spend less when you function from a cash budget over paying with plastic.
4) Insist on a List
Oh my word, I love school supplies. I also love big bargains. These two passions create panic in the aisles if I’m not careful. For this reason, you need to make a specific and targeted list and then stick to it. Stuff on sale is still stuff. While it’s OK to stockpile some basic supplies for year ahead, don’t get carried away.
5) Initiate a Wait
You probably don’t need EVERYTHING on day 1 of school. Yes, you’ll need to bring in the required classroom items, but you should wait when it comes to purchasing many items. Put a hold on purchasing backpacks and lunch boxes, opting to begin the year with last year’s instead. You can choose a first day of school outfit, but more than likely your kid doesn’t need an entire new wardrobe. If you’re patient, by September, most of the back to school items will be marked down to a fraction of their retail price as big box stores make way for the Halloween season.
Stay tuned for more great back to school smart shopping strategies and money saving tips over the next two weeks! I’ve got a bundle of them to share.
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out The Debt Free Devotional on Kindle.
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