5 Smart Ways Parents Fund Back-to-School Expenses
Most parents don’t expect back-to-school expenses to be very much. After all, it doesn’t cost much to buy a pack of paper and a couple of pencils. But you would be surprised at how quickly it all adds up. Plus, parents don’t just buy things like notebooks and highlighters; they also have to buy backpacks, pricey calculators, new clothes and shoes, and gadgets like tablets or even a laptop.
According to an annual survey from Deloitte, a financial and regulatory consulting company, total back-to-school spending will be about $27 billion this year. About 60 percent of people start shopping before August and spend an average of $532. About 40 percent start shopping after July and spend an average of $458. That’s not chump change!
Some people just whip out the plastic to take care of back-to-school expenses, but not everyone has that luxury. Some people don’t have great credit, and others choose to forego credit cards since they don’t want to pay the exorbitant interest. Here are five smart ways that parents are funding back-to-school expenses without using credit cards:
The best way to save money on back-to-school items is to limit what you have to buy. You can do that by reusing everything you can from the previous year, as well as items from around your home or office. Most of us have a junk drawer with a bunch of pencils, pens, highlighters, paper clips, and other items that can be used for school. There’s no need to buy these things new if you already have them.
Also, consider carefully whether you really need to buy a new backpack or lunch box. Your kid may want these things new each year, but there’s no reason to do it except to keep up with fads. Save the money and reuse the items instead.
Have a Garage Sale
Most kids grow out of their clothes and get tired of their toys so fast that you’re pretty much replacing everything every year. Why not make a little profit off what you are getting rid of? Gather up everything that your kids have grown out of and that they no longer play with and host a big garage sale. Price things competitively so you can sell as much as possible. You’ll get rid of clutter and make a little extra cash to put toward back-to-school expenses.
Hit the Sales
Don’t wait until you need the items to buy them. Stock up when you see things on sale. For example, you know that your kid is going to need fall and winter clothes, so why not buy these things in the winter and early spring when they go on sale from the previous season? You can put them in your closet until the next fall and they’ll be just as exciting to your kid.
Whenever you see any kind of school items on clearance, go ahead and grab a few. Keep a basket or box in your closet to put the items in throughout the year. If you have extra, donate them to your kid’s class to give to other kids whose parents couldn’t buy them.
If you can, put aside a little money each month throughout the year to pay for what you’ll need when school starts again. Say you spend around the average of $500, that means that you would need to put aside about $42 a month to have what you need.
That may be a lot more than the cost of a latte – the benchmark that all easy savings plans seem to use – but it is affordable for most budgets. It’s certainly a lot more affordable than plopping down $500 at once!