Back to Top

Q&A Articles

Back to School Budget Busters: How to Save on Supplies, Clothes and More

Posted in: Money Management

With school back in session, many parents are wondering how they’ll swing rising classroom costs.

According to a 2010 report from the National Retail Federation, combined K-12 and college spending will reach $55.12 billion this season, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event behind the winter holidays. The average family is expected to spend about $606 on school-related merchandise.

As retailers pull out all the stops to lure parents and students alike, shoppers must take steps to avoid unnecessary temptations and run up a steep credit card bill. It is possible to equip yourself or your kids with everything you need – without draining your bank account. We have six tips that can help you cut back-to-school spending in half or even more:

  • Create a Back-to-School Budget – In order to prevent impulse buys, create a list of what your child absolutely needs and stick to the list – no matter what else might be on sale. Explain this strategy to your children ahead of time and enlist their help to find the best bargains.
  • Recycle Old School Supplies – If last year’s school supplies are still in good shape, such as a backpack, binder or markers, don’t purchase new versions simply because it’s a new season. You can create new looks with stickers and patches, or swap school supplies with a friend or sibling. If new items must be purchased, seek out classic and durable styles that will last several years.
  • Buy Supplies in Bulk – Organize a back-to-school shopping trip with a group of family and friends. Purchasing the basics in bulk, such as pens, folders and paper, can save a lot of cash now and throughout the school year as more supplies are needed. They may even carry into future years.
  • Make Your Children a Part of the Process – Have your kids chip in for back-to-school shopping. They are likely to spend less if they are using their own funds. This will also help them learn how to manage a budget and shop for sales.
  • Host a Clothing Swap Party – This event is ideal for pre-teens and teens who love to stay in fashion. Often, kids grow out of their clothing before it’s worn out. A clothing swap party provides an opportunity for a group of kids or teens to bring all of their old clothes together and swap for items that are “new” to them. Leftover clothes can be sold to a used-clothing or consignment store.
  • Wait Out the Rush – Unless your child’s school requires new uniforms, try to wait out wardrobe purchases until after the school year starts. Buy a few items for the first days of school, and then let them scope out new trends before purchasing the remaining items of the wardrobe. When it comes to classroom supplies, wait to see what teachers require before you purchase unnecessary items.