Budgeting Tips: Back to School Costs

Offset back to school expenses by using these simple tips

Fall is in the air and your kids are starting to get excited at the prospect of seeing their friends and getting a whole new wardrobe. But how do you cover back to school costs, like clothes and supplies, while staying within your budget? While it's fun to pick out new styles, there are plenty of ways to save and get the supplies you need for the school year ahead.

Get your kids involved and set realistic spending limits

One of the most important tips for budgeting back to school costs is to get your kids involved. While this might be harder with younger children, teaching your preteens and teens the value of a budget will help them manage their money in the future.

  • Budgeting tips for clothes: Start by going through closets together and decide what's still in good shape and what just doesn't fit anymore. If the clothes are still in good condition and you have younger children who would fit in them, keep them for hand-me-downs. Make a list of what your child absolutely needs and figure out how much you can afford to spend. Maybe they can get by with just two or three new outfits but have to get new shoes. Communicate your spending limits and what your budget will buy, then tell older children if they want to go beyond the budget, they can, but they'll have to use their own money.
  • Budgeting tips for supplies: Gather up last year's school supplies and save the items that are in good condition, or that can last the first few months of school. If you can hold out for sales, you'll be surprised how easy it is to lower back to school expenses. Generally, last year's binders, pencil cases, backpacks and lunch boxes should be in good enough condition to re-use. If they have half a bottle of glue left, send them with that and remember to pick some up when you see the lowest price.

Lower back to school expenses by shopping for deals

Shopping around may take a little more time than a one-stop shopping spree, but you'll be able to get the essentials at incredible prices if you just do a little homework first.

  • Budgeting tips for clothes: When you're trying to save money on clothes, start at a thrift or consignment store. Vintage is in, and you can often find clothes in good condition that your kids will wear. Then, checkout outlet malls and discount chains for low prices on the styles your kids are begging for. Shop sales and clearance racks, but avoid buying for the whole year - especially if your kids are still growing.
  • Budgeting tips for supplies: First, make sure you're using the school supplies list from your child's classroom because some of the retail supply store lists are more generic and you could end up buying unneeded items. Then, follow these helpful tips to cut back to school costs on supplies:
    • Shop dollar stores for notebooks and other basic supplies. Whether it's $.25 crayons or $1 scissors, these savings will definitely add up.
    • Consider shopping in bulk. Talk to the other moms in your children's classes and stock up together. Buying in bulk is often cheaper than individual supplies, and if you end up with more than you need, you can always store it for next year.
    • Buy quality supplies. Backpacks and lunch boxes can last your children several years if they're made well. Spending a little more upfront may mean you can save a lot later. Consider getting a nice solid color as your child's interest cartoon characters and superheroes may change within a year.

Keep track of your back to school costs with a debit card for your Citizens Bank checking account

Shopping with cash or a debit card can help you stay within your set budget. You may even want to open a checking account designated to back to school costs that you can use to manage your budget throughout the school year. Speak to a Citizens Bank representative at 1-877-360-2472 for more information on how multiple checking accounts can help you manage your budget.


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