According to The Wall Street Journal, parents can plan to spend around $700 on back to school costs this year. Ouch! To make matters worse, evidently kids are “demanding” cell phones and other electronics from their parents for school.
School district budgets are tighter than ever so parents are expected to contribute more supplies.
Holy Busted-Budget, Batman!
What’s a parent to do? Follow these 9 easy tips to keep the back to school budget in check…
Smart and Simple Back to School
- Reuse items from last year. Go through last year’s supplies and examine back-packs, lunch boxes before heading out to buy new ones. (Sew your own lunch sack with these instructions.)
- Check in with teachers. Plenty of schools never update the ‘school supply list’ that gets mailed out. Check in with the teacher on what they actually need.
- Clean out the closets, first. Kids don’t need an entire new wardrobe to start the school year. When school starts, it’s usually hot and summery. Wait to buy new clothes when they’re needed – if at all.
- Make a wardrobe list – and stick to it. This is especially helpful when shopping with teenage girls. Trust me on this. Have a plan before heading to the mall.
- Shop second-hand, first. If kids are paying for their own clothing, they’re more likely to hit second-hand stores for the latest fashion items.
- Steer clear of the dollar bins. According to Danielle O’Doherty of My School Supplies, we should steer clear of the dollar bins. We’re often seduced by the inexpensive pricing only to get a poor quality product. Look for brands that are endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council – who recommend sustainable forest products. Look for their seal on the back of paper and pencils.
- Use coupons – for items needed. Don’t stock pile or buy items unless they’re truly needed. Likewise, buy items year-round – when they’re on sale and you know you’ll need them.
- Volunteer. Have older kids and teens volunteer for an organization that helps those in need. My kids help at a clothing center before we back to school shop. This helps them appreciate what they have already.
- Do kids really need cell phones and electronics for school? Yes, cell phones are convenient but are cell phones really needed? And, they cost – a lot. They’re also very distracting at school! What’s wrong with kids paying for their own cell phone bills? Nothing at all. Don’t forget, there’s still a telephone in the school office.
Hold tight to those purse strings and keep those wallets in the pocket! School spending may be at an all time high but that doesn’t mean you have to participate.
What are your tricks for reining in back to school costs?
Go Gingham related links:
How to save money on your smart phone bills – great tips from readers!
What does it mean to budget? Find out here!
Budgeting and how to track expenses – Part 1
Budgeting and how to track expenses – Part 2
Budgeting and how to track expenses – Part 3
How finances figure in frugality
The key to saving: frugal living is the key to saving