It’s almost that time of year again … time for students to gear up to head back to school! While a new school year can be an exciting time for both students and parents, it can also be a stressful and expensive season. According to a survey by Communities in Schools, the average back-to-school costs exceed $1,000 per student.
To help you get started, our team has compiled a few back-to-school shopping tips for you:
1. Review the school supply list
Most schools will provide a recommended school supplies list. Ensure you get access to this list early so you can see what you already have versus what is still needed to purchase to cut down on extra spending and plan ahead accordingly.
2. Create a budget
Once all the school supplies needs are clear, it is time to make a budget. Not only should items for the school supply list be accounted for, but also items like seasonal clothing and shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes, electronics, and special equipment for after school activities such as sports, music etc. Take a look at the entire school year to ensure a comprehensive budget is developed to cover all the expenses that might occur over the year. A great idea is to involve your children in this process of determining how much to spend on various items for some financial education. It is important to include your children in these types of activities to teach them how far money goes in relation to their wants and needs and foster valuable money-managing skills.
3. Take inventory
It is likely that there is left over or re-usable school supplies around the house from previous school years. Set aside time to figure out what you already have versus truly need. The best way to save may be not to spend at all, so check around your house before school shopping. Determine what is still usable for another school year versus what needs to be sold, donated or discarded.
4. Shop & sell secondhand
Take any outgrown or no longer needed, gently used items to a local consignment store to sell. Then use any money made toward this year’s school purchases. While selling your items, you can also look at the consignment shop for affordable gently used school supplies and clothing to add to this year’s wardrobe. For those that have high school or college students, we encourage you to purchase used textbooks when possible as well as sell any previous years’ textbooks that are no longer needed.
5. Shop after school starts
Skip the August shopping rush by having kids use what they already have for the first few weeks of school. It is likely to still be warm outside when school starts, so they can get away with wearing summer clothes. Waiting to shop will give kids a chance to see what’s really in style and want to wear this year and if any additional supplies are really necessary. By waiting a few weeks until after school starts, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Labor Day sales as well as back-to-school clearance deals.
6. Look for bargains, use coupons & leverage student discounts
Local brick and mortar retailers will often have in-store only promotions that can be taken advantage of. Check your mailbox for weekly coupons and store websites for printable or downloadable coupons. Whether shopping online or in store, buy in bulk to reap the benefits of additional savings and prepare for future school supplies needs. You may also be able to utilize student discounts whenever possible, particularly when considering purchasing expensive items (computers, tablets, printers etc.). A helpful student discount guide can be found at teachthough.com.
7. BONUS TIP: Shop Local
Your local community is also a great place to look while back-to-school shopping. Whether you’re looking for clothing, shoes, school supplies or office materials, make sure you look at your local small businesses.
While saving money with your back-to-school shopping, you can save even more with our HomeTown Bank Star Savers account. A great way to earn rewards and financial education while saving for the future!