Back to School Budgeting

August 18, 2008 · Posted in Personal Finance 

It’s coming up on that time of year again. For many of us, the end of summer heralds the start of a new school year for our children, which is usually a happy time. No more kids laying around all day whining that they’re bored, less time and money spent on childcare, and more – there’s no doubt that Back to School Time is a good time.

Until you remember Back to School Time also means you’ve got to go shopping, that is. The price tags attached to the start of a new school year can be pretty daunting. New clothes, new backpacks, new supplies – this stuff can get pretty expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the spending down while still getting the kids the items they need to start school off right.

The biggest expense related to the kids going back to school (aside from tuition, of course) is likely to be the new clothes they’ll need. This usually isn’t as big a financial burden if you have younger children as it can be if you have teenagers, but it can still get pricey. The first thing to do is set a cap on how much you will spend and then stick to it. If your older children insist they just have to have the hundred dollar sneakers, even if that eats up half of their allotted amount, you can let them make that decision if you want, but explain that once their budget is gone, it’s gone.

Another way to avoid overspending before school starts is to spread it out. Buy the kids a few things to get them started, and then pick more items up as you go along. There’s really no reason to buy an entire fall and winter wardrobe for a child in August. After all, they can’t wear everything at once. If you pick a few items up here and there as the weeks pass, you can plan your shopping around stores that are having sales and better budget your money, ensuring you get the most value for your dollar.

The start of a new school year can definitely be hard on the bank account, and budgeting will always help. It’s easy to spend more than you anticipated once you actually set foot into a store, but with some careful planning and setting limits you can stick to, you don’t have to go broke getting the kids outfitted for school.


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