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, parents spent an average of $635 per family on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics in 2013. 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 make them pitch in 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 to complete 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!
I know 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 wear 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, you make sure that debt isn’t in the picture. If you’re like a lot of Americans who use credit cards, you’ll put it all on credit with interest. Then you’ll still be paying for this year’s back-to-school expenses when you go shopping next year. Bad idea!
You don’t have to be like the average family and spend $635 a year on school shopping. That’s nuts!
Sit down, make a list, budget for your expenses, and focus on your kids’ needs over their wants. You’ll be off to a great start in making sure back-to-school shopping doesn’t bust your budget!