The start of a new school year can be quite expensive, especially for those on a tight budget. Unfortunately, these essential expenses are often put on credit cards that will only cost a family more in the long run in interest rates. Before heading out for back-to-school shopping consider a few tricks to help keep you within budget and out of the debt trap.
While every kid finds joy in getting new clothes and supplies for school, it isn’t always financially possible. Go through last year’s clothes to see what still fits, can be repurposed and what items are essential for replacing. Adding a few tops to some still-fitting jeans can create multiple outfits at a fraction of the price. New accessories can also jazz up old outfits to make them appear new. Don’t be afraid to shop resale, there are many upscale stores that sell name brand clothing for a much lower price tag.
As for school supplies, chances are there are tons of leftovers from last year. Raid your kid’s art station or your own craft/tool bench to find pencils, markers, scissors and much more. If last year’s backpack still has straps, consider it golden for this year too. Who cares what you carry your books in as long as it works. Reusing a backpack can save $35 or more per school year.
If you do need new clothes or supplies, know ahead of time which items are a must-have and where you can find the best deals. For clothing outline which items you must have the first few weeks and which you can wait until later to purchase. After all, you don’t need a winter coat for several months, so stick with the pants and lighter weight tops for purchase now.
If your kids have friends at school they know well, consider asking their parents if they want to buy in bulk and split the costs. Buying supplies at a big box store can save everyone money by going in on a 25 pack of pencils and splitting them among 5 kids. The same goes for classroom donated supplies like tissues and erasers.
It is easy to get sucked into spending more than you have in your budget if you just wander around the mall shopping in multiple stores. Instead, look online at various stores to shop deals and find the best price for the item you need. Ask for a price match, most stores are willing to match competitor prices if you have an ad to prove the savings. Also, keep your receipts. Often, stores will have sales just after the school year starts and keeping you receipt can reimburse you the difference between the new sales price and the purchase price.