1. Make a Budget
Once you determine what your child needs in terms of school supplies, clothing, lunch and gym bags, and other back to school necessities, determine a budget. This will be essential in preventing your spending from spiraling out of control. This is especially essential for big ticket items like quality backpacks, sports equipment, and laptops. Budgeting will be essential whether you are school shopping for a kindergartener or a college freshman.
2. Involve Your Kids
Back-to-school shopping is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids to be responsible with smart spending and saving habits. Explain to them why it is necessary to have and stick to a budget. Help them prioritize wants vs. needs (for example, they can splurge and invest in a cool new backpack, if they spend less on an expensive binder or pair of shoes) because it’s never too early for kids to learn smart financial habits.
There’s a good chance that many of the items on your child’s school supplies list are sitting right at home. Look in craft bins or office storage for extra pencils, pens, rulers, and more. For some added fun, turn it into a scavenger hunt, and award the winner a prize! Shopping at home extends to your child’s closet as well. There’s no need to create an entirely new wardrobe when they can reuse well-fitting, quality clothing already in their closets that they can easily wear this year. Just restock the essentials they’ve grown out of with clothing that can easily be mixed and matched.
4. Shop Around
Instead of visiting your regular big box store for school supplies, shop around for the best deals. Compare deals in coupons and flyers to see where best to buy certain classroom supplies, clothing, or equipment. Check out deals online as well.Researching store advertisements might take some extra time, but the savings will be worth it in the long run. Consider shopping at thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, and on Craigslist. Many of these places offer quality clothing and excellent bargains on backpacks and equipment for a fraction of the price.
You know how you can get Christmas decorations and wrapping paper between 75% and 90% by December 26th? Back-to-school supplies operate in much the same way. Many stores and online sites offer excellent deals on school supplies by the middle of September. Buy supplies in bulk and store them at home. This way, you have a cache of school supplies in case they run out, and you’ll have most of next year’s list complete!
Back-to-school shopping can be a fun experience. Develop a budget, stick to it, and involve your kids with the experience. This way, you can save your time and money on the important things, like quality time with your kids before they head back to the classrooms. To help get your kids back into the school year routine, visit greatschools.org for some smart and healthy tips!