For many parents, back to school shopping can be a financial nightmare. Not only do your kids need supplies and new clothes, but they will also need fees for classes, lunches, and registration. The high cost of back to school doesn’t need to drain your family’s budget.
With these tips, you will make the back to school transition effortlessly and on a budget.
Consider shopping for clothing throughout the summer to take advantage of sales. An easy way to keep the cost of clothing low is to create a mix and match wardrobe. This technique can be applied to any age group or gender. As an example, a shopping list for a boy could include three T-shirts, a pair each of denim jeans, gray jeans, colored jeans, and camo jeans. To complete the wardrobe, purchase a pair of versatile sneakers, a denim jacket, a light pullover, and a long sleeved button down top. The idea is to create as many outfit combinations as possible with the least amount of clothing articles. From the given example, you could easily have 10 outfit combinations. Another easy way to keep the clothing expense low is to sell any items your child has outgrown or no longer uses. Consider holding a yard sale or even listing items on eBay or Facebook groups. You can use the proceeds towards this year’s wardrobe.
Before purchasing any supplies, call the school and find out if they have a list of all the items your student will need for the upcoming year. With your list in hand, take inventory of the supplies you might already have around the house. For simple items like pens, pencils, glue, and crayons head to your local dollar store. There is no need to overspend on name brand supplies if you can find them cheaper at the dollar store. Try to avoid any trendy or themed items, as these will likely not be popular later in the year and your child will probably quit using them. Instead, opt for solid colored backpacks, pencil boxes, and notebooks. Remember to compare ads and shop around to make sure you really are getting the best deal.
Class Fees and Registration Fees
School fees are a little harder to save money on because they are usually a set price. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reasonably budget for them. Your best action plan is to be aware of each required fee for registration and any classes or extracurricular activities your child has planned. To offset the burden of paying upfront, consider opening a savings account and making nominal deposits each month. For example, if your child’s registration and class fees will be $200, you would deposit about $16.50 each month. The caveat to this plan is that you would need to begin saving way in advance. Another option would be to take up a part-time summer job. Many employers offer flexible scheduling during the summer months. Consider jobs such as front desk help, receptionist, event staff or proofreading. Check with your local temp agencies for any positions that are looking for summer help.
The cost of school lunch can really cut into your budget, especially if you have more than one kid. Rather than buying costly school lunches, consider packing a homemade lunch. With make-ahead cold lunches, you can prep all of your child’s lunches once a week. Fill sandwich bags with trail mix, pretzels, crackers or granola. For perishable items, set aside some space in your fridge to hold string cheese, yogurt, and pre-cut fruits and veggies. For sandwiches, slice your meat and cheese and layer in between bread or buns. Don’t use lettuce or condiments because it will ruin the sandwich when it thaws. Individually wrap the sandwiches and freeze them for the week. Cold lunches will not only save money, but they will also be a huge time saver because your child can grab a few items and go. If you have more time for grocery shopping and prepping, consider creating a month’s supply of school lunch freezer meals. Simply thaw the meals in the fridge throughout the week. For meals that are served warm, just pop them in the microwave and place them in a thermos. The food should stay warm for about five to six hours.
Back to school can be a hectic time of year. From activities to homework, schedules and classes, sending your kids back to school can be nerve wracking. With these tips though, you’ll easily transition from summer vacation back to school.