Saving on Back-to-School

Between supplies, books, clothing and other back-to-school items, beginning a new school year can be hard on your budget. Although you plan for it, the cost of these school items can add up. Not to mention, each year it seems like schools are offering more programs to their curriculum that requires parents to spend more money for supplies. Although we want only the best for our children, there is no denying that the costs for going back to school can get expensive. Below are ways you can keep those costs down.

Set a Budget

According to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index, the cost of sending a child off to elementary school was $659, to middle school $957 and high school $1,498 for the 2015-2016 school year. These figures are for just one average student. Parents with multiple children will spend a lot more. If you have a college-age student, the costs will skyrocket.

Before you begin your school shopping, review your budget and figure out how much you can spend on back-to-school supplies. Once you have created your back-to-school budget, you will know ahead of time the amount of money you have available. Your next step is to stick with this budget.

Take Stock

Next, go through your home and take inventory of the supplies and clothing you already have that you can reuse this school year. You might think it is a good idea to stock up on supplies you think your child will need during back-to-school sales, but it is best to wait until the school supply list comes out to avoid buying things you already have or that aren't necessary.

Set Limits

As children get into higher grades, they will want to keep up with the latest trends in name-brand clothing, backpacks, and binders. These types of items are unnecessary and can hurt your school budget. They may not be made to last either.

You can get your kids a couple of items that are trendy on their list but explain to them your budgetary limits. Teach your children about the value of money and how some things are not worth the price tag. Educate them on differences in quality and that a logo alone does not necessarily make an item well made.

Where to Find Deals

Finding deals can go a long way in saving money on back-to-school supplies. A few ideas include:

Tracking Sales

You can check out inserts from office-supply stores and mass retailers to find deals and back-to-school specials they have. Typically, their sales begin a week or two before school starts.

Shop Discount Retailers

Discount stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls have well-made items for a good price.

Compare Prices

It can be time-consuming hunting around for bargains. Fortunately, these days you have phone apps that do the work for you. Apps like ShopSavvy or RedLaser find the deals, and you identify an item you want with their app and the app finds which stores have it at the better price.

Other Ways to Save

There are some other ways you can save money on school items.

Download Online Textbooks

In many classes, the instructors allow students to download and use virtual books. These online books are usually cheaper than paper copies.

Check out the Dollar Store

Like the name says, everything at this store is just $1.00. That makes it a great place to get your kid's notebooks, pens and pencils, paper, index cards, rulers, and other basic supplies.

Go to Your Local Thrift Store

You can find gently used sporting goods, clothing, and backpacks in abundance at discounted prices at thrift stores. These stores are also a great place to pick up supplies, such as kitchenware and furniture, for your college student who is going away to school and will be living in an apartment.

Shop After the Rush

Back to school rushes tend to occur in August and again when kids go back to school in January after the winter holiday. You may wish to wait until after the rush to get items on sale and avoid the peak times. School items often get marked down as much as 75 percent at the end of the selling season. Either waiting until those sales begin or using them to stockpile supplies in advance of the next back-to-school season can save you a significant amount of money. Although your selections will be limited, this time is a great time to stock up on supplies your kids will use the whole school year.

As you can see, obtaining back-to-school necessities does not have to drain your wallet. With a little bargain hunting and limit setting, you can get your child what they need to begin their new school year without creating a financial burden for yourself.