Labor Day weekend is officially done, and the kiddos are headed back to school. Parents, this is your time to relax a little bit. Your little munchkins will be busy bees with class, homework, and play dates. Sit back, put your feet up, and take a deep breath. Things will get chaotic quickly, so enjoy it while you can. While you’re enjoying your slow time, make sure you’re staying on top of your everyday duties as well (I know, I know… don’t you wish you could just stop everything for a few weeks?!) Finding the right supplies to help you stay organized (and save money at the same time) is crucial to staying on top of your tasks.
As I grew up and graduated college, I realized how much money my family spent year after year on school supplies. I’m not talking about the tuition for college. I am talking about the years of back to school clothes, notebooks, pencils, lunch boxes, snacks, backpacks, calculators, etc. It adds up and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
According to a study conducted by Huntington Bank, school supplies and activities cost an average of:
- $649 for an elementary school student
- $941 for a middle school student
- $1,402 for a high school student
These numbers have increased up to 85% at the elementary level since 2007. These costs include many of the things listed above. Saving money might sound easy peasy, however, some teachers send out school supply lists with name brand specific products that the students “must” have for the year. So, how can you cut costs while sending your children to school and letting them be in extra curriculars?
Tips For Saving Money
Here are some of my top tips for saving money during the school year:
- Set a back to school clothes budget. If you have a little extra spending money that year, then maybe each kid gets four new back to school outfits. However, if money is a little tight, then they only get two. Obviously, you can’t pass on necessities like new shoes if their feet have grown. But this small trick will help save money because as we all know, clothes go out of style quickly. If your child knows that they won’t get as many new outfits the next year, they might choose clothes that they’ll love for longer periods of time. Leading to less wasted money.
- Save unused/gently used school supplies. Growing up, I felt that I always ended up with more supplies than I actually needed. Some of them just ended up at the bottom of my locker collecting dust. Therefore, at the end of the year, I’d give them back to my mom and she’d store them in a closet in our house. Then, as the next year came around, we could check the closet for notebooks, binders, folders, pens, pencils, etc. This allowed us to save money on unneeded supplies. It can be easy to get sucked into buying more supplies or more expensive supplies when the store brand does just as well. Go into the store with a list and only come out with what was listed.
- Save money on everyday necessities. There are things that we simply cannot avoid. Toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, food, water, etc. Everyday living essentials to get us by cannot be avoided. My tip is to do some research. If you have an Aldi in a nearby city, then grocery shop there as prices are usually cheaper for fresh produce. Use coupons at stores for floss, canned goods, toothbrushes, etc. Download coupon apps like Cartwheel to save money when you shop. It might only be 50 cents, but over time that adds up!
- Purchase products that help save. Wasting products or spilling products is frustrating because of the mess, but also because it can feel like throwing money out the window. Purchase products that help you get the last bit out of your product. For example, sometimes when I put my veggies back into the same bag that they came in, they turn brown quicker. If you purchase Tupperware with stronger seals, then they last longer. Which saves you money from throwing out food. Likewise, there are toothpaste winders. These just attach to the bottom of the tube and turn the wheel. This product pushes the toothpaste up as you use it. When you get to the end of the tube, it can be annoying trying to push the toothpaste out, but the attachment presses all the toothpaste to the top so that you won’t leave any behind.
- Budget Year Round. Going back to school isn’t something you start thinking about two weeks before Labor Day. It’s something that you need to keep in mind year-round. Account for these costs in your yearly budget to ensure that you have enough spending money to help your children get a solid education.
The costs for school supplies and activities will most likely continue to rise. Use these tips, your best judgement, and budget planning to help keep a little extra padding in your pockets. Ask your friends and family what they do to budget for school to get ideas as well. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child, so don’t feel ashamed asking for advice.
Share your back to school pictures with us on social media with #GMSlife. We love seeing all the kiddos getting back into their schooltime routines!