It’s August once again, and it’s time for your kid to return to school. But did you know that the average US parent now spends around $789.49 on their K-12 child’s back-to-school shopping expenses each year? That’s a considerable amount of money for any household, including those here in Texas.
With the rough economic times we’re all going through, it’s become vital for families to save whenever they can, including with their children’s school expenses. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can budget for back to school without breaking the bank or depriving your kids of what they need.
Materials That Your Child Needs for School
First, make a list of the items that your child needs when they go back to school. It will help you determine what you have to spend on this school year.
Based on today’s average cost of $789.49, this is how much parents spend on each back to school shopping category:
- School Supplies: Traditional materials such as pens, erasers, glue, notebooks, rulers, lunch boxes, and backpacks cost an average of $131.37.
- Clothing: Your growing children often need new clothes, shoes, or school uniforms, all of which comes out to an average cost of $234.48.
- Electronics: Your child may need devices such as calculators and apps for learning platforms or online courses. These can cost up to $274.44 for the average family, although if you need to purchase a new computer, that number looks pretty low.
Besides these usual expenses, you’ll also need to consider your child’s health and safety, especially since the pandemic isn’t over yet. This means setting aside money for masks, alcohol or hand sanitizer, and anti-bacterial wipes.
Money-Saving Tips When You Budget for Back to School
As expensive as school shopping can be, any tips that make things easier can go a long way.
1. Take Inventory of What You Have
When making your school supply shopping list, check what you already have at home to see if they’re still usable. If your children’s clothes still fit, you don’t need to buy them new ones just yet. They can also reuse pens, coloring materials, or unused notebooks leftover from last year. Have the kids continue using them so you don’t have to buy more for now.
2. Decide on Your Shopping Budget
Once you’ve finalized your shopping list, you can research these items’ retail prices and set a spending limit based on them. Taking this step creates some breathing room in your budget when you find items on sale.
Not setting a back-to-school budget puts you at risk of using money that’s meant for other important expenses, such as utility bills and mortgage payments. In such instances, some parents end up taking out loans to cover school expenses for their children.
3. Search For Discounts, Coupons, and Secondhand Items
Instead of just buying the item at the exact price on your list, you could opt for more affordable options. You can check online or local stores for clearance sales or coupons, which can help you save, especially when buying in bulk. When it comes to expensive items like laptops, you could settle for older or secondhand models that are still in good condition but won’t cost too much.
But some materials may be worth spending more on. For example, buying a pricier but durable backpack can save you from having to buy a new one each school year.
4. Stick to Your Shopping List
It’s easy to go over budget if you’re shopping with your kids in tow. They might ask for toys or expensive branded items—and there’s always a chance you’ll give in to them. But you’ll need to reiterate that you all need to stick to the budget for the greater good. If you’re the type to get easily tempted by your kids’ requests, it might be best to just do the shopping by yourself.
5. Save Ahead of Time
You can make things much easier for your overall budget by saving up money for back-to-school expenses ahead of time—even an entire year before the next season! Let’s say your average expenses total $700. If you decide to start saving this September, you could set aside around $60 each month and have $720 when August rolls in again next year.
This keeps you from having to take out such a large amount of money in one sitting, potentially preventing you from paying other monthly bills.
The Texas Sales Tax Holiday
Finding discounts when you can is an ideal way to budget for back to school costs. The Texas sales tax holiday will be held August 6-8, 2021. The tax free weekend is a great opportunity to purchase; clothes, footwear, school supplies and backpacks. Many of these deals are also available through an online website or catalog sellers in Texas. Capitalizing on these deals is a great way for parents to find the essential supplies that every kid needs for the school year.
By following these tips and tricks, you can better budget for back to school expenses more effectively and make life much easier for your family.