Ready or not, back-to-school season has arrived! Whether you have kids or are headed back-to-school yourself, you already know how costly this time of year can be. According to a recent study, parents spend about $685 on school-related expenses each year. From school supplies to back-to-school clothing shopping, these tips will help keep you from exceeding your budget.
Back-to-Basics: Start off your back-to-school shopping by obtaining your child’s supply list from their school. Once you have the list, check to see what supplies you already have at home. Why buy pencils if you have a pack in the junk drawer or left over from last school year? When you do go out to buy supplies, be sure to stick to the list. Also, buy basic colors rather than trendy branded merchandise. Instead, purchase stickers, and allow your kids to decorate their notebooks, saving you money and getting your kids excited to go back to school.
Mall Shopping Tips: August means summer clothing hits the clearance rack and the fall must-haves are front and center on display. Stay on budget by:
- Passing up the display and hitting the clearance rack for basics your kids can wear year round. For example, buying clearance T-shirts and pairing them with cardigans or zip-ups will take your kids into winter without breaking the bank.
- Checking RetailMeNot for online codes and in-store coupons.
- Looking in stores you may not typically consider going into. Do your kids have to wear a uniform? You would be surprised by the great uniform deals at Old Navy and JCPenney.
- Knowing the best time to shop in your state. For example, tax free days! See if your state participates here.
- Stocking up now when summer clothes are cheap and fall must-haves are on sale. Stock up on school supplies as well, as this will typically be the lowest price for these goods throughout the year.
- Taking advantage of layaway or making a day trip to your local outlet mall.
Lunches: While it can sometimes be a burden, planning out lunches for the week can be an activity you and your kids look forward to. Make a trip to the grocery store together to purchase healthy, yet affordable items. Allow your kid to splurge and pick out one of their favorite snacks for the week. Prior to going, check out the local paper to see what stores have the best sales and coupons on brands you like to save you even more money. Many states offer school lunch assistance and child nutrition programs if making lunch on a daily basis is not an option.
Senior Year: As senior year and graduation expenses add up, follow these tips to save money, but still celebrate your achievement:
- Senior portrait packages can end up costing well over a hundred dollars. Reduce your costs by only purchasing the basic cap and gown photo, and not ordering more multiples than you intend on handing out. On a sports team? Skip buying the pictures for that as well; the team picture is typically in the yearbook!
- Speaking of yearbook, making this investment will mean you have all of the sports team pictures, graduation portraits, and event photos for years to come.
- Do you really need the senior class shirt or class ring? This is based on preference, but keep in mind how much each will cost.
- While taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school are free, the test at the end of the year costs money. However, passing the test would save you money from enrolling in a college course instead.
- Thinking about college? The SAT and ACT cost money to take as well. Cut costs by checking out prep books from the library or ask to borrow a recent graduate’s study guides. Click here to learn more about registration fees and to checkout if you qualify for a fee waiver.
- Be prepared for Homecoming tickets and prom expenses, including dresses/tuxes. Girls, try Rent the Runway, which offers designer dresses for a portion of the cost.
- Other expenses you should keep in mind as senior year wraps up include class trip tickets, graduation parties, and outfits for graduation or graduation parties. Sending out graduation announcements? Skip the ones from the school and make your own easily and for cheap at Walmart or another photo center store.
Encourage your senior to go to class meetings and help schedule fundraisers. This will help his/her resume, and your bank account!
Regardless of your kids age, or if you are going back-to-school yourself, we recognize that this is an expensive time of year. Here at Mariner Finance we make loans for just about any reason, and work with you to make payments fit in your budget. Call or stop by your local branch today to see how we can help!
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