From the Executive Director’s Desk: Back To School Shopping and Budgeting
How to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
You’ve seen the ads. It’s time for Back to School shopping. And, if you’re a parent, you’ve probably seen the list your child’s school has prepared with the items you have to provide. You’ll also likely buy new clothes, shoes, uniforms and other items.
The list of school supplies you have to provide has steadily grown over the years. Here’s an example of what’s on the required list for 7th grade students in my area.
The list for high school students also includes items such as a USB flash drive, protractor, compass, graph paper, scientific graphing calculator, workbooks and miscellaneous lab fees.
Tips for Budgeting During School Shopping
The average family now spends up to $1,000 on back to school shopping. If you have a college age student, the cost is even higher. What’s the amount you’ve budgeted for back to school? Have you even set a specific budget? I’ve gone through various articles and websites that have helpful tips on how you can save money on back to school shopping. I’m sharing the ones I think are the best.
- Do a supply sweep in your home. Look for unused supplies from the last school year. Make a list of what you find.
- Set a back-to-school budget and stick to it.
- Wait to buy. Your child probably doesn’t need every item on the list at the start of the school year. Find out from their teachers, which items they’ll need right away, and those that can wait. You might find better prices after the school year has started.
- Skip the office supply stores. According to an analysis of seven retailers by DealNews, a comparison shopping website, Target had the best prices on school supplies and Walmart had the best prices on back to school clothes.
- Shop on tax-free days. Find out what those dates are in your geographic area before you buy, especially on pricier items, like electronics, computers, laptops, etc.
- Comparison shop. With the internet, it’s easier than ever to find out which stores are offering the best deals and at what time.
- Include your kids in the process. Talk to them about why you need to set a budget. Ask them to help comparison shop and stay within the established budget.
- For college students, buy or rent used textbooks and avoid the campus bookstore.
- Plan ahead. Take your list with you when you shop to avoid impulse purchases.
- My personal favorite. Just say no. Don’t cave-in to your child’s requests for items such as designer clothing and top-of-the-line backpacks.
These are some of the best tips I’ve found. I encourage you to go online and do a search for “back to school shopping” for more money-saving advice. If you have any tips to share with our readers, feel free to comment.
About the Author
Anna Flores joined CARE as its first Executive Director in 2015 and helped to bring the organization into official 501(c)(3) status. Previously, Anna worked as a VP for American Express and has years of experience working with volunteer-driven organizations throughout the Washington, D.C. area.