If you are one of those parents that have been waiting for the summer to end, good news: you are looking at the light at the end of the tunnel!! Summer is almost over, kids are getting ready to go back to school, teachers are starting to prep and get ready for the year to start, and parents everywhere are ready to go.
However, with the joy of the start of the school year, there is also the stress of getting the kids prepared.
The “back to school” frenzy is starting to show everywhere. Stores all over the country are putting school supplies and the sort out for parent’s “convenience.” If you are like many parents out there feeling today the added financial stress of this season, let me give you 2 words of advice: Please, relax.
The back to school frenzy brings a lot of stress to families all across the US every year. Shopping for school supplies, uniforms, food, shoes, and many other items needed adds so much financial stress to families during this time of the year. In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that families will spend about $700.00 per child (elementary to high school) this year at a jump of almost 10% from last year. if you are a family of 4, with 2 kids waiting to go back to school, that is an added $1,400.00 to your spending this month. That is a lot of money!!
If you are feeling the financial stress already, it is time for you to take a pause, and relax. We at Saving For Hope believe that taking control of your finances is a great way to start the school year. We had compiled a list of items, ideas, and sites that might help you get the stress out of getting the kids ready to go back to school.
BEFORE YOU SHOP
- Set a budget. If you do this prior to the spending frenzy it might help you stay on track. Also, it helps you prepare for it in advance. Start saving money at the beginning of the summer instead of waiting for this time to hit you all at once. But it is not too late to get started and still save some money.
- Before you shop and spend money, see what you have at home. You might have some supplies at home already that you can start gathering as you complete the dreaded supply list. At the end of the day, your kids do not need 5 boxes of crayons at home. Send 3 of those to the school. This is also a great way to declutter your house. Take advantage of it.
- Supply swap with your friends. Talk to friends and see what supplies they might have or need around the house as well and exchange what you have in excess for stuff you need. This is a great way to save money on items you might not even need to buy.
- If you have friends or family members with kids, talk to them about doing a clothes swap. You will be surprised how many new or almost new clothes can be sitting around your house that a friend or neighbor can use and vice versa. That will help you save some cash.
WHILE YOU ARE SHOPPING
- Take advantage of the big retailers’ saving days. Big retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Target, and the like, have great deals to help you save money. Take advantage of those savings planning ahead and shopping around before you buy. Like a mom explained to me the other day saying she went to the dollar store, because she thought it will be cheaper, but came to find out Walmart had the same items for almost half the price. Those, extra $5 or $10 can go a long way when getting school supplies.
- Take advantage of the back to school tax-free days! Most states now have a week when sale taxes are waived to help parents save money on school supplies. That can save you up to 10% in some States. Find your state here.
- Save time and stress getting items online. Amazon delivers items fast and that can save you precious time that can be used to prepare for other essentials. Big online retailers are making it easier and easier to shop online. This can be done from the comfort of your home and it can save you a lot of time and stress.
AFTER THE KIDS GO BACK TO SCHOOL
- Learn how to say NO. This is a great way to save money and stress. Just say NO. We are not saying be a bitter grump that is no fun at all and says no to everything, but occasionally saying NO to your kids will not kill them. Kids don’t need the most expensive cleats or brand name shoes. Learn how to set boundaries and save some cash. This will also teach kids to be humble and not to rely on “nicer” things to do good in school.
- Save on after school activities. Limit your kids’ participation on after school programs to one each. The average cost of extracurricular activities is about $5,000 per child, per year. Let your kids choose one activity and shop around for it. This will save you money in the long run. Here is a great article to help you save money on those activities.
There you have it. A few tips to help you get started. Remember, it is going back to school, not back to poverty. You don’t have to go back to the poverty cycle just to get the kids ready for the new school year. Break free from the crowd. Plan, save and get ready. This is a time when the kids are excited, sad, joyful, anxious and thrilled all at the same time!! Share those feelings and memories with your family and spend some quality time getting ready to go back to school. Those are precious days that money can’t buy.
Let us know if you have some ideas or tips, to help families save. Send us an email or share in the comments below. As always, Enjoy!!