As the kids go back to school, I can’t help but think about all the money that we, as parents, spend on our little ones. Unfortunately, our schools no longer have enough money to take care of some essentials, so the parents have to step in. But that doesn’t make it easy on our pockets.
Back-to-school spending is cutting more deeply into family budgets than ever before. In fact, the National Retail Foundation expects parents to shell out $83.6 billion this year to send their children and college students back to school, an increase of 10 percent over last year.
“Back-to-school season puts a lot of strain on families, and spending keeps going up every year,” said Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management counseling agency. “School budget cuts have shifted the cost of supplies to families, but savvy parents can minimize their spending without skimping on necessities.”
9 Tips for Saving on Back-to-School Expenses:
- Repurpose: Kids need many of the same supplies every year, and items like scissors and rulers can withstand many school years. Saving even a few bucks here and there will quickly add up.
- Splurge and scrimp: You may want to splurge on a few items that are important to your kids, like a cool new backpack or high-end calculator. Then scrimp on everything else, opting for low-price and store brand glue sticks, binders and markers.
- Stick to the list: Teachers’ supply lists have become more extensive – and expensive. It’s smart to stick to the list and avoid impulse purchases on unnecessary items.
- Compare prices: Laptops and calculators can put a big dent in the back-to-school budget, so make sure you’re getting the best price. Pick from numerous apps that track prices on costly electronics to ensure you’re getting the best value.
- Wait to buy: Even better, put off purchases on pricey items until after Labor Day. Just like holiday shopping, retailers hold fire sales after the rush is over.
- Shop tax-free: Many states offer a tax-free weekend to help parents save money on back to school. Look online to see if your state participates, and take advantage of the savings.
- Find retailer deals: Retailers ramp up promotional offers as the start of school approaches. Sign up for emails and check social media pages of your kids’ favorite brands, then make your purchases when you find a good deal.
- Shop second-hand: Clothing swaps are a smart choice for parents looking to exchange gently used clothing, and second-hand shops, Craigslist and eBay are good options for finding trendy and brand-name gear at a low cost.
- Include kids in the process: Give your kids a back-to-school budget for higher-price items like clothes and shoes. They’ll learn an important lesson about blowing the budget on one or two pricey brand-name items or stretching their dollars for a bigger haul.
About Take Charge America, Inc.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services including credit counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 1.6 million consumers nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more, visitwww.takechargeamerica.org or call (888) 822-9193.