Family Budgeting: Ways to Save This Back-to-School Season

Back to School pencils

Back to School pencils

When you’re paying back student loans while raising children, every penny counts. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Back-to-School Survey, families with school-age children will spend an average of $634.78 on school apparel and supplies this year. Here are some ways to save as you shop this year:
• Check weekly ads for deals on basic supplies. You may find unexpected deals on things like pens and loose-leaf paper at your grocery store.
• Swap. Connect with parents of kids that are the same gender and around the same age as yours. Swap outgrown clothes and books.
• Sell outgrown clothes. Find local resale shops that will buy your kids’ used (good condition) gear. You can make a few dollars to offset the cost of Back to School time. You may also find a great deal on some slightly used clothes that are nice filler for your kids’ closet.
• Wait until Labor Day for clothes. Retailers tend to wait until Labor Day for clothing sales.
• Take advantage of sales-tax holidays. Many states and municipalities offer a tax-free weekend on school supplies, clothes and sometimes even laptops. Make sure you’ve planned your shopping list and know that the deals you’re going out for are worth the tax discount.
• Decorate supplies in unique ways. Let your kids have fun decorating and customizing their supplies. It can save you on more expensive supplies and it helps ensure those items don’t get lost.
• Wait to buy trendier items. If your kids are begging you for the coolest backpack or lunch box, wait until school is in swing to make the big purchase. They may change their mind on what they want most once they see what their friends are bringing.
• Ask for student discounts. Retailers may offer student discounts, and all you have to do is ask. They may want to see a student ID.
• For those purchasing textbooks, shop online. Purchasing used textbooks can save your family a bundle. Check out deals on sites like half.com to see if they have the textbook you need. Make sure you are purchasing through a reputable seller, that it will be delivered in time for classes to start, and that it is the correct version of the textbook.
• Inventory your home. Before you spend hundreds of dollars on clothes and supplies, check storage to see whether your son or daughter really need that new pair of jeans or if they still fit in last year’s pair. When inventorying, you may also find a box of markers or pens you forgot you had.
• Plan meals and snacks. Check out what’s on sale in your local grocery stores, and plan your meals around the specials. You can also save time and money by doing a local food swap with neighbors or family members who live close by. If one family is in charge of purchasing and making food for the week, they can get bulk pricing and you only have to worry about time spent planning and shopping on select weeks.