Top Five Back to School Money Saving Tips for Parents and Students
by Lauren Podolsky, Stage of Life Financial Literacy
Well it’s that time of year again. Long nights are growing short, afternoon play dates are being replaced with study sessions and the dust is being brushed off those textbooks.
That’s right, it’s back to school time and for most parents and even college students, it’s also a time to revisit the bank account. With the start of a new year comes the need for fresh supplies, the latest fall fashions and if you’re heading out on your own, the perspective of a reasonable budget.
Before you put too much worry into dropping a reasonable cash load before Christmas break, here are a few money saving tips to keep your back to school funds in check.
1. Perform Inventory on Supplies
Every year, the long list comes out of necessary school supplies that you or your child needs in order to have a successful experience and long are the days when the only things required were a number two pencil and lined paper. Everything from fancy notebooks to high priced calculators are up for grabs so before you run to the office supply store, assess the materials that you already have on hand. I’m sure thee happens to be a drawer stuffed with pens and markers in your house and I’d be willing to bet that more than half of them are still in perfectly good working order. Just because it’s a new year does not mean that the supplies from previous years cannot be recycled.
2. Divide and Conquer
Once you have a good idea of what you or your student actually needs, start smart shopping. Many stores will be running great back to school sales so make sure you take note of which ones have the best prices for the items you need. Also, look into wholesale clubs where you can buy some supplies in bulk and split with a friend. You might not need 45 lined notepads but I’m sure you can find a few friends who will go in on the cost and split the product.
3. Prepare a Budget
If you are getting ready to leave the nest this year, college is a whole new ballgame when it comes to managing your money. If this is your first time living on your own, it’s vital to have a plan when it comes to your spending. By putting together a budget, you will be able to take note on how your money is being spent each month and how you can prepare for other expenses that you might not have had before. Simple purchases can really add up and even if you think your meal plan is going to cover all of our dining desires, think again! The late night study sessions can become a habit and if you’re ordering pizza to get yourself through, take in to account that those purchases don’t always fall in line with your preplanned meal budget.
4. Organize a Clothing Swap
One of the biggest expenses we see at the end of the summer is new clothing that students look forward to purchasing every school year. I get it; going back to school is hard enough so no one wants to be the one seen in last year’s fashion trends. But before you hit the malls, think about the clothes that you or your friends already have. Pull a few items from your closest that you’ve either outgrown or can part with and organize a clothing swap between your friends. You’ll be surprised how these slightly worn items can look and feel brand new with a few enhancements.
5. Shop End of Summer Sales
There are many items that can be worn all year long. Polos, jeans and some shoes can be used well into fall so take advantage of the last minute summer sales that are going on.
And of course, don't forget to shop the deals and discounts found here on StageoLife.com in our free My Life Rewards program!
About Lauren Podolsky: With over 10 years as a blogger and Financial Literacy adviser, Lauren lends her money tips and financial Q&A insights here on Stage of Life each and every month.