A new school year is upon us, and you’ve probably noticed the shelves at retail stores are lined with school supplies. If you have children in school, this is something you know is going to happen every year. It may not be included in your normal monthly budget, however, because it is not a reoccurring expense. Don’t worry. You can still prepare and save yourself time and money when your family purchases supplies and clothes for the new school year.
The first thing to do is determine what your child actually needs. School supply lists are usually available at schools and sometimes at local retailers. Once you have the list, go through last year’s school supplies and office supplies you have but rarely use. This can help you mark some things off your list before ever stepping foot into a store.
Identify the items on the list that you will need to purchase and prioritize them. You can develop a budget based on your needs. Talk with your children about the difference between needs and wants before going to the store, especially if they will be shopping with you. Check out retail store sales flyers or coupons in your local newspaper or online.
At the store, stick to the items your child needs. Often stores will give large discounts to entice you to buy more. If your budget allows, you may set aside a small amount of cash, such as two to three dollars to allow your son or daughter to pick a small want on their list once you are at the store, such as a printed binder as opposed to a less expensive plain binder.
Before going clothes shopping make sure you know the dress code for your child’s school. Sort through your children’s closet to determine what clothing items they can still wear from last year and what you need to purchase. Remember you can spread out your clothes buying over several months because you child won’t need some items like snow boots or jackets until it gets colder.
You are also less likely to overspend if you bring a set amount of cash to the store and leave when it’s gone, compared to using a credit card that doesn’t have immediate consequences.
More information about budgeting and other financial topics is available for adults and children at the Bell County Cooperative Extension Service.
Source: Jennifer Hunter, extension specialist for family financial management. Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.