We may be knee-deep into summer right now, but in reality, the new school year is right around the corner. A new school year is exciting for teachers, students and parents, but it can also be expensive. Not only do students need school supplies and new school clothes, other activities and extra-curricular activities need to be accounted for as well. Follow these tips when purchasing school supplies for your student this year.
Make a list for each child. While the specific items needed for each child may change each year, you can loosely base your budget on the amount you spent in years past. Basic items like notebooks, crayons and pencils are pretty comparable in cost from year to year. If you know someone who has a child in the grade your child is entering, ask them to compare their budget and item list with you. Don’t forget to account for any extra-curricular activities that have monthly fees and any equipment or special athletic clothing that may be needed.
Set aside money year-round for school purchases. While the beginning of the school year accounts for most school spending, other events and items will need to be purchased throughout the year. By setting aside a little money every month, back-to-school expenses can be a little easier on your wallet if you are prepared.
Get your kids involved. The more your children understand money and how it works, the better financial success they will likely have throughout their lives. This is a great time to teach your children about “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” and how to compromise. Another incentive to save money is to agree with your children that if you come in under budget for their back-to-school items, you will split the savings with them. This could make some older students very motivated to come in under budget, especially if they are eyeing a new pair of shoes that are more expensive, or even a night out with their friends.
Do some research. School lunches are convenient, but are they the most budget-friendly option? Research what your child’s school charges for lunch and compare the cost (and nutritional value) with packed lunches and snacks.
Be frugal. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the least expensive price. Another option is to find gently used items at second hand stores or garage sales. A lot of kids outgrow clothes, shoes and athletic equipment fast and a good deal is sure to be made.
This article was written by Kelly Potts. It was published in the Founders FCU's Transaction Newsletter (January 2012).