As summer winds to an end, it’s time to prepare for that fall tradition: Back to School. While the new school year can be an exciting time, it’s also a time of big expense. You have new clothes and shoes to purchase, backpacks, school books, school supplies and other expenses. If your children play sports, you may need to add athletic equipment and sports shoes to that shopping list.
Ways to Save
You can take advantage of store sales to purchase needed fall clothes for less, or use hand-me-downs or thrift store clothing to stretch back-to-school dollars. However, these strategies can only help you so much. If you are looking for additional ways to save on everyday expenses so that you can have a successful shopping trip, start by finding ways to cut down on other expenses. Here are some examples:
- If you normally buy coffee out, brew your morning cup at home to save money
- If you normally purchase lunch at work, bring lunch from home to save money
- Hold a yard sale to drum up extra cash
- Cook more meals at home to save the expense of taking your family out to a restaurant
Clipping coupons may seem like an unrelated necessity for back to school shopping, but it can help reduce spending significantly. To save the most with coupons, go through all of the coupons and clip any that feature items you normally buy. Use these when grocery shopping to keep food expenses low. Remember when school lunches come around you’ll need to have lots of bread, condiments, lunch meat, peanut butter, jelly, and snacks for the lunch box. These can get pricey, and deals help a lot.
Getting Organized For Shopping
Before you hit the stores, go through last year’s school supplies and clothing. Any clothing that fits and is in good condition can be used again, as can backpacks and sports equipment. Reviewing inventory before you shop helps you and your children see what you already have, so you can avoid duplicating inventory and spend money on the clothes that your family really needs. After you’ve reviewed your children’s existing clothing, make a list of needed items. Be sure to consider fall coats, umbrellas, raincoats, shoes, and other peripherals when plotting your list, so you don’t end up with unanticipated expenses down the road.
These ideas can help you get everything you and your family need for back to school season without blowing your budget. However, keep an eye out year round for some of the common school items to save even bigger next year. For example:
Become a yard sale junkie! Frequent local yard sales and garage sales to find gently used coats, clothes, and sports equipment for your kids
- Take advantage of end-of-season sales: That new fall coat is a lot more expensive when bought in August or September than when bought on clearance in November.
- Have a try before you buy policy when it comes to expensive musical equipment like drums or fancy sports equipment like hockey gear. Rent the equipment for a season or see whether you can borrow some from neighbors or other moms near you. If your kid really enjoys the sport, or the instrument, and plans to continue, it may be worth the investment to buy. But if it’s just a passing phase, you don’t need to carry the expense.