Back to School on a Budget

back to school budget

Follow these budget saving tips for your back to school shopping (photo credit:

While many parents look forward to the start of the school year because it means getting back to a manageable routine, few get excited about the expenses that accompany back to school season.  Many families simply don’t have hundreds of extra dollars available for a new back to school school wardrobe and a stock of cool new school supplies.  But what parent doesn’t want the best for their child?  These tips can help you make the most of your back to school spending so that your child has everything they need to succeed without having to break the bank.

Back to School Clothes

While there is this idea that every child needs a bunch of new clothes in order to start the new school year, this may be an unhelpful hold over from our ancestors who only had two or three sets of clothes to their name.  Back then, children often did need some new clothes for school because last year’s clothes no longer fit or were worn out.

These days, most kids have more clothes than they actually need and back to school clothes shopping is a habit not a necessity.  To cut back on these costs, start by determining what, if anything, your child actually needs and go from there.  Some years they may have experienced a growth spurt that requires the purchase of all new pants, but most of the time you are likely to find they only need one or two things.  Stick to what they actually need plus one new outfit for the first day of school and save the money you would have spent on clothes for other expenses.

If your child does need new clothes, wait until the end of the back to school season, around late September or early August to shop when prices are lower.

Back to School Supplies

The other big budget item when it comes to heading back to school is school supplies.  Those mandatory supply lists can be long and costly but there are some things you can do to keep costs down while making sure your child has the supplies they need to succeed.

  1. Make a List

Before you head to the store, make a list of what each child needs for supplies.  This will help you avoid buying things they don’t actually need.  It will also ensure that you have a complete picture of what you need so that you can take advantage of sales featuring multiple items or other cost savings options.

  1. Search Before You Shop

Once you have your list, go on a supply hunt at home before you buy anything.  There is a good chance that some of the supplies you bought in previous years went unused and can be pressed into service this year.  Check children’s closets, desks, drawers, and old backpacks and anywhere else in your house school supply items are stored.

  1. Be a Bargain Hunter

Lots of stores will have sales and this is one time that it pays to be a price comparison shopper.  Once you know what you actually need to buy, search the ads for the local stores to find the best price on each item before purchasing anything.  Don’t forget to look at the office supply stores as well since they often have sales on back to school items too.

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