The “back to school” wave can create some anxiety all around. Kids of all ages get those pre-first day jitters but parents have the daunting task of getting ALL the things in preparation for the school year ahead. Families will spend on average, close to $700 on clothing, supplies, shoes, tech gadgets and more. Planning ahead is an important part of conquering the “back-to-school” craze and there are ways you can strategize to prevent over-spending.
London is starting Pre-K in a few weeks and she is over-the-moon excited about it! It’s really fun to shop for new fall clothes, the cute backpacks, lunchboxes, etc., but you can also turn it into an educational process as well! Teaching our kids the value of a dollar, the importance of smart spending and saving can be an intricate part of this. Depending on their age, you can plan a budget together and help them stay within that budget by looking for deals and shopping smart!
This time of year always helps us as parents re-evaluate where we are at in terms of our own budget and saving. It gets us thinking about more ways we can save and prepare for her future. We already have a college savings account for both of our children because it’s never too early to start planning ahead for that!
Last fall we got a chance to learn more about ways to plan and save for the future with the U.Fund Dreams Tour! This year, we’ll be attending Riverfest in Gloucester on August 24th, from 12 to 6pm! If you are looking for ways you can get the ball rolling, this would be a really great start and a fun event for you to attend with the entire family!
Here are a few helpful tips to make sure your back-to-school shopping goes smoothly…
Shop at Home.
Start by shopping at home! You’ll be surprised to see what you already have lying around the house. Sift through the folders, notebooks, markers, pencils etc. to figure out what you can use and what is still good! Once you have gathered everything like scissors, glue and the other supplies mentioned - you can “shop” your own little store. A lot of times you’ll be able to knock off half of your supply list just by doing this one simple step.
Spread Out Purchases.
Instead of shopping for supplies, clothing, etc., all at once, spread it out over the course of a few months! A lot of people make the mistake of shopping the week before when everything is the most expensive and it takes a large chunk out of your bank account. Back to school items start popping up in stores at the end of June, so purchasing a little at a time will feel more manageable! Also, if you only buy half of your supplies and wait until mid-September after the start of school to finish your shopping - you will find some incredible deals!
Shop Smart for Clothing.
This is a great time to go through your child’s closet to determine what they have and what they actually need. Take stock of what they’re low on and focus your shopping on those items. Check consignment shops for back to school clothes in good condition and search thrift stores for gently used clothing as well! There are also “clothing swaps” you can look for on your local Facebook page! Take advantage of tax-free weekends such as Labor Day and when you shop online, look for “price matching” to find the best deals.
Save on Lunches.
Packing school lunch five days a week, especially if you have more than one child, can add up in spending category. Instead of buying pre-packaged snacks, buy in bulk and add them to individual disposable zip-lock bags. Save on drinks by investing in a sturdy thermos instead of bottled drinks or juice boxes. Choose a few days out of the week to go meatless by including things like veggies & hummus, fruit & yogurt, cheese sandwiches, etc. Keep in mind that some dinner leftovers make for a really great lunch!
Save yourself the time and also save your sanity by doing the majority of your shopping online. Look for coupon codes, stores that do free shipping, and have a simple return policy! Price-matching online is another way to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Typically Tuesdays and Fridays are the days that offer the biggest discounts! Also, keep in mind that some stores offer a price-adjustment if the price of the item that you purchased dropped within one or two weeks, so make sure to keep your receipts!
What are some ways that you like to save this time of year?
This blog post was brought to you by Fidelity and MEFA. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.