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Financial Guidance Library

Back To School on a Budget

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For many families, back-to-school preparations can be an extra strain on the purse strings. This season of new beginnings can reach extreme heights. The National Retail Federation gives the statistic of the average individual family with children in grades K-12 spending over $600 on “apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics”. With those numbers bringing reality to the situation, how do we provide for the needs and eliminate the frenzy? Here are 3 simple tips to help you breathe easier.

SHOP YEAR ROUND

When the back-to-school rush begins, stress levels rise. Often, the pressure to complete the list can lead to overspending. Instead, shop year round. Keep your eyes open as you stroll through stores. Often times, the basic necessities end up with a red clearance sticker on them. That’s the time to stock up on those items that are always on the list such as notebook paper, pencils, crayons for younger children, and highlighters for older kids. Sales are tempting during this season of preparation but are often misleading.

STICK TO THE NUMBERS (the budget that is)

When the money runs out, it is time to exit the store. Have a discussion with your kids before you leave the house. Let them know the limit and then hold them and yourself to it. The education-based items should be first and foremost while fads and gadgets can fall toward the bottom of the list. If those items don’t make it in the shopping cart this time, set a goal for your child to earn these items with age-appropriate chores or good behavior. You and your kids will feel a sense of accomplishment when smart shopping is a priority.

RECYCLE AND REUSE

Book bags and lunch boxes are items that don’t necessarily have to be replaced. Investing in a bit more pricey yet sturdy book bag can relieve your budget in the long run. The possibility of reuse is great. Maybe a good washing and a couple minor stitches could keep that bag useful through two, possibly three school years. This may not be what “everybody else” is doing but it is always smart to make the choices that best fit your family’s goals not only financially but in life lessons as well.

As a means of conclusion, consider this from my heart to yours. There are moments in life when financial stress can become a powerful force in our homes. It is inevitable. Yet there are times when our simple choices can eliminate that issue. Let this be one of those times. Those kiddos will be heading off on a new adventure very shortly. The here and now is simply that… here and now. Let’s not waste a single moment stressing over things that are within our control.