Keep back-to-school budget in check

Young students raising their hands in class


Article highlights

  • Create a detailed list
  • Explore ways to save
  • Stick to your spending limit

These five tips can help keep your back-to-school expenses in check.

Back-to-school time can be expensive. Your kids may influence your buying decisions, so get them involved in the process. Use these tips to help manage spending without breaking the bank.

1. Plan ahead

Make a list of all of the things that you and your child think is needed, including costs. This activity helps kids learn how the budgeting process works. Ask your child to think of all of the categories in his or her detailed list, such as:

  • Clothes and shoes
  • School supplies
  • Electronics, such as a laptop or a graphing calculator
  • Extracurricular items, such as an instrument or sports equipment

2. Review the budget

Go through each item on your child’s list. He or she may think a new backpack or expensive clothes are needed when last year’s bag and inexpensive clothes will do. Negotiate exactly what your child needs or wants and decide on a figure that’s comfortable for you.

3. Load debit card with agreed amount

A prepaid debit card will give your child a set amount of money to spend, so there isn’t any spending creep going on your credit card. When the money’s gone, it’s gone.

4. Use these ways to save

Whether you’re shopping in stores or online, avoid impulse buying that blows the budget. Take advantage of a sales tax-free weekend, if your state offers it. These weekends are often held in the beginning of August.

Start early so for the best selection. Have your child look for sales and coupons. If you have reward coupons, throw them into the budget for your kids.

Check dollar stores for back-to-school products. Especially for expensive items, you may want to buy used, so look online. Also, let the kids raid your house to collect pens and other supplies.

5. Stick to your budget

If your child is dying for something outside the budget, have him or her earn the extra money to pay for it. Your child can hold a garage sale after cleaning out the attic and garage, do extra chores around the house (both inside and out), or help neighbors with dog walking, pet sitting, or yardwork. Pay by the job, not by the hour. Stick to your budget so back-to-school spending doesn’t break the bank!