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back to school budgeting tips and worksheet

Back to school shopping can go smoothly and not impact your budget if you plan ahead and budget accordingly.  Back to school shopping should be considered a periodic expense since this happens year after year and something that you can proactively plan for.

Start by considering what your child’s needs are and the classroom requirements for the year. Work with the school to understand what will be expected of them in terms of supplies. Depending on if your child is in elementary, middle or high school schools supplies will vary as well as costs.

August is generally a good time to get all of your back to school shopping done -- there are many sales that you can take advantage of, and some states offer tax-free days.

Consider planning your budget 3 months ahead of time and:

  • Set a realistic budget
  • Work with your children in preparing the budget and what they will need for school; choose practical back to school supplies and avoid fancy pens and pencils. 
  • Start putting money aside for back to school expenses and if your child can contribute to the fund all the better. This way they will be contributing and have a better understanding of the costs surrounding these expenses.
  • As the summer months pass take an inventory of what your child already has in case you can recycle for another year.
  • Look for back to school sales that include coupons and discounts; when shopping around don’t assume that a coupon is necessarily going to give you the best price – DON’T impulse buy because you have a coupon or you think you will not see this deal again. There will be many more sales coming up. Consider sales that include coupons and discounts carefully.
  • When it’s time to start the shopping, bring your budget and child with you and shop together and carefully.  Have your child work with the budget and learn to make compromises to stay on budget
  • Stick to your budget and keep your child involved as much as possible. Together you will keep your budget and check and your child will learn the value of what budgeting is all about.

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Click here to download the Back to School Budgeting Worksheet

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