Empower Blog

July 07, 2021

Back-To-School Budgeting Tips

Money-Saving Tips
After you have swept up the debris of fireworks from Independence Day, you may realize that summer is already halfway over. If you are a parent, now is the perfect time to start thinking about, and budgeting for, back-to-school shopping. Outside of Christmas, back-to-school shopping is often the most expensive time of the year for parents. You know your kids will need school supplies, but do they really need that new backpack? This week I will review where most parents misstep when they stock up for another academic year.

Shop the Drawers First

I will be the first person to admit that there is just something about a fresh box of crayons that makes the start of another school year feel real. For some of your other supplies, it is important to take a hard look at what is really necessary to purchase new. If your family is like mine, you have probably got a drawer full of pens and pencils that can be reused – and the same goes for last semester’s lightly used binders or notebooks. It’s also a pretty safe bet that your student does not need a new backpack, calculator, or USB drive for the new school year. While your child might want all new, shiny supplies, you can save a lot of money by reusing certain items. This could also be a good time to teach the little ones a lesson in saving and taking care of their personal items throughout the year.

Budget First, Buy Second

There are, of course, things that cannot be reused and that you will need to purchase new. While many schools will send out the information as soon as they can, feel free to contact your child’s school and request a list of what your student will need so you can start putting together a budget. Once you have a good idea of how much and what will need to be purchased, start doing your research. Places like Five Below or your local Dollar Tree carry more school supplies from your list than you would expect. You might also find better deals online for basic supplies like paper or pens. If you have more than one child, look at bulk deals online or at a warehouse store and weigh out the per-item cost.

Dress to Impress

Pens and snack-packs are not the only back-to-school items you will need. If your student is anything like mine, they are going to want a whole new wardrobe before stepping back into the classroom - and late summer/early fall is a great time to shop for those first day of school outfits. As quickly as these kids grow, it might be tough for you to pull the trigger on nice, new, brand-name clothing. That is why I would suggest hitting your nearest thrift store before stopping by the mall, or even Walmart or Target. You can find great deals on brand-name clothes for your little ones, and you will not feel like you are wasting money since they are going to grow out of them before the year is up anyway.

Lastly, you’ll want to mark your calendars for the upcoming Missouri Back to School Tax Holiday taking place August 6 – August 8. The tax holiday covers much more than your basic school supplies. You can save money on clothing and electronics such as laptops and tablets, which are more necessary than ever for our students. Basically, anything you can think of that a student might need in school will receive a tax break this weekend, so do your research and planning ahead of time to make sure you are saving where you can.

The circulars will be arriving to your home or inbox soon, but do not immediately throw them into the trashcan as you normally would with junk mail. Instead, get an idea of costs and start preparing your budget. Think of it as setting a good example for the kids – even Mom and Dad have to do their homework!
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About the Author
Professional Picture of Kat Hnatyshyn
Kat Hnatyshyn

Branch Manager

Kat’s Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. When not blogging or caring for her little ones, Kat is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union.