6 Quick Back-to-School Shopping Tips

The time of year when you’re saying goodbye to the sun and the sand and saying hello to the classroom is right around the corner.

According to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending is estimated to reach $83.6 billion in 2017! Parents with kids in grades K–12 will spend $29.5 billion, which comes out to $688 per family—up 8% from last year.

In other words, going back to the classroom isn’t cheap!

So, I hope you’ve prepared for this time of year financially. But if not, here are a few tips to help you ease into the back-to-school season.


This is the first basic thing you have to do before shopping. List out everything you need and make sure you’ve budgeted the money to cover all of it. The worst thing you can do is go out and blindly shop. You’ll end up spending way too much money, and you’ll probably buy back-to-school stuff your kid doesn’t really need.

Let the kids help.

If your kids want the “cool brand” as opposed to the brand you’re willing to pay for, then let them cover the difference. There might be a designer backpack or a trendy locker accessory they want—and that’s fine. But tell them they’ll have to dip into their piggy bank stash to help pay for the extra cost.

Put needs over wants.

You have a required list of stuff the teacher asks from you. That’s your priority. After that, decide what else is absolutely necessary on your list and what can wait until later in the year—or really isn’t needed at all. For example, if you just bought a new backpack last fall, your kid shouldn’t need another one this year.

Don’t forget about the shots!

Does your child need immunizations for the upcoming year, or will they be playing sports and need a physical? Make sure you’ve budgeted money (and time) for any upcoming back-to-school medical costs that aren’t covered by your insurance.

Remember, your kids grow!

It’s crazy, isn’t it? But don’t get caught off guard when your sixth grader—who’s been wearing flip-flops all summer—suddenly can’t fit into the tennis shoes he was wearing back in May. Junior high school is hard enough. Don’t make it any more difficult for your kids by sending them to school in high-water jeans.

Don’t go into debt.

This goes back to my point about budgeting. When you budget and make sure you have the money to pay for everything, debt isn’t in the picture. And that means you’re not relying on credit cards like so many other Americans, who charge all their purchases and get interest added on top. They could still be paying for this year’s back-to-school expenses when they go shopping next year. Don’t find yourself in that situation!

You don’t have to be like the average family and spend $688 a year on school shopping. That’s probably overdoing it.

Sit down, make a list, and use EveryDollar to create your budget, prioritizing your kids’ needs over their wants. With EveryDollar, you’ll be off to a great start in making sure back-to-school shopping doesn’t bust your budget!