Are you feeling stressed about the expenses that come with the “Back-to-School” spending? Just like the holiday season, back-to-school season comes around at the same time every year yet it tends to sneak up on us. With inflation, this year’s back-to-school might be a bigger challenge for your budget.
Back-to-school shopping is one of the most essential consumer shopping occasions of the year. The list seems endless; new clothes, shoes, uniforms, school supplies, electronics, sports equipment, etc. The National Retail Federation estimates that “families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $890.07 on back-to-school items this year, approximately $25 more than last year’s record of $864.35 and a new high.”
Planning ahead is the best way to start the new year. Putting back-to-school spending into your household budget reduces the stress and helps you be a savvy consumer. Even if you haven’t set aside an amount for your shopping needs, there are some things you can do to stay within your budgetary limits.
First of all, get the whole family involved in the process. Back-to-school shopping is a great time to talk to children about managing money, understanding the difference between needs vs. wants, comparing costs and keeping within budget. Talk to your children about what is important to them. Then, as a family, determine how much you can afford and establish a spending limit that you feel comfortable with. As you are shopping, encourage everyone to make thoughtful choices as you may need to remind them about priorities and budget expectations.
Using the supply list provided by your child’s school, create your own list based upon what supplies you already have at home. Make an inventory of not only school supplies, but go through your child’s dresser and closets to figure out what still fits and what items might need to be purchased.
Prioritize your list and begin shipping for the essentials first. If possible, consider staggering some of the purchases for a later time. Waiting to purchase some items until the seasonal discounts may allow you to keep within the budget. Additionally, keep track of your spending so you know when your budget has reached its limit.
How creative can your family be? Are there alternatives to buying new that allows you to stretch your budget? Consider checking out second hand stores that might have backpacks, lunch boxes, clothing and other school supplies? Maybe you have some great neighbors that you can swap supplies with.
Going back to school is always an exciting time, however, you also want to be aware of the drain on your wallet to make it a less stressful time for you and your family.