September is right around the corner, and that means your kids are going back-to-school. And while they hit the books, you have to open your pockets to buy them new school stuff. But don’t rack up credit card debt just to get them school supplies. Follow these tips to shop back-to-school the smart way!
Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping
- Shop your closet. Before you start your back-to-school shopping, make a list of inventory and supplies you already own and might be able to reuse for the new school year. Although your child’s school may issue a shopping list, you don’t need to buy every single item on it. In fact, you can even contact your school or homeroom teacher to ask what items are critical in the first month so you have a financial cushion.
- Set a budget. Set a budget that is realistic and achievable. ACCC’s budget calculator gives families and students insightful information on how their expenses are going to be used and where to make necessary adjustments. Look at your previous year’s purchases as a baseline.
- Look for sales. The earlier you start looking for sales, the better. In fact, it will benefit you to shop for clothes in July because this is when retailers are trying to get rid of their summer inventory. If you are looking for more specific items, such as backpacks, wait until August. There are deeper discounts then.
- School charges. Consider the cost of a meal plan at school versus how much time and money it will cost for you to make your child’s lunches at home. Also consider the costs of extracurricular activities and set some money aside for those.
- Shop smart. Your kids may want to impress their classmates with the latest gear, but that doesn’t mean you should get into consumer debt as a result. One thing here or there may be okay, but being practical is key. Avoid fancy supplies that you don’t need and buy store brand if possible.
Try using this back to school budget calculator to find a rough estimate of how much you’ll need to save for back to school expenses.