While school shopping probably isn’t a surprise, you may be caught off guard by the amount of items or the price tag. And if you’re like me with a child going to preschool for the first time, Target got a lot of money! Maybe too much money. Let’s review unexpected August costs to prepare your budget and avoid dealing with credit card debt.
Budgeting for Unexpected August Costs
Do you use a household budget?
Yes? Great, skip down to the next section.
No? Keep reading.
A budget simply accounts for the money coming in as well as having a plan to spend the money. Additionally, a budget also keeps track of spending that occurs beyond the plan.
Let’s make sure you have the right tools to start budgeting:
- Budget worksheet– paper or digital
- Budget calculator
- Monthly bills (2-3 months worth or the last year to get a more accurate picture of each month)
- Financial Community Guidelines
- Spouse or partner on board
Basically, you need a template and the right tools to fill in the template. The monthly bills will help you determine things like estimated utility costs. The Financial Community Guidelines will provide some background and education on healthy spending habits.
Finally, make sure you have your spouse or partner with you. While it’s fine to have one person generally responsible for budgeting, you should be making the decisions together. This is especially true for the first few months of budgeting.
To budget for unexpected August costs, you have to take some time to forecast your life. Do you have kids going to school? Are you going on vacation soon and need to save? What about a Christmas gift fund? More surprise costs might be higher than normal utility bills for heat waves, purchasing some new fall decor for the home, camp fees, carnival trips, etc.
Ways to Save on School Supplies
Now, let’s get back to school shopping. Read through the following tips to avoid personal credit card debt as you shop for things you need.
- Spread out the shopping. Rather than one big shopping weekend, purchase only what you can afford for that month. Then go out again the following month when your budget is refreshed. The fun will last longer.
- Mix and match old and new clothing. Are kids really going to remember or care if your kids wore those pants last year? Pants are an especially expensive part of the wardrobe that you can reuse or buy in spurts over time. If they have grown out of the pants, save them for the next kid!
- Swap with other families. If you are close with other families around your child’s age, try setting up a clothing swap. The children will get some new gear and you will be one step closer to eliminating credit card debt as an option for outfitting your kids.
- Wait to shop for bigger sales. Stores will want to get their merchandise out towards the end of August or September. Rather than shopping early in the summer or even in August, wait to get better deals. Labor Day is another big sale weekend.
- Shop at thrift or second-hand stores. While this takes time, it can be a fantastic option for a small budget. People donate great items all the time and the proceeds usually go to a good cause. These stores also run deals regularly throughout the week.
- Does your state offer any tax-free days? You can save money by shopping during these special days.
- Buy in bulk. If you have multiple children, you can save by buying one extra big box of pens rather than separate smaller boxes for each child.
- Let your kids take part! If you have a list of items, and a set budget, allow your children to do their shopping and gain a better understanding of how spending works. Tell them that if they end up spending less than is allotted, you’ll split the difference with them.
- Check local churches or non-profits. See if they are doing a drive to collect school supplies for families in need. They could be collecting backpacks and stuffing them with a variety of items.
- Follow the list. Don’t get items not on your child’s list. Similarly, stick to the list! Get what the school is asking. You may be asked to buy items again if they aren’t correct.
- Invest in quality vs budget. While it’s great to purchase quality items that will last a few years, you might not be able to afford it. Keep your budget updated to see how things fall into place.
- Price shop. Check around a few place in town and online to see who is offering the best deals on what.
Unexpected August costs can be anything! Do your best to make the budget fit what you know will cost you and leave a little wiggle room to cover the unknowns.
If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC may be able to help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.