How to Stretch Your Back-to-School Budget

With the first day of school just around the corner, the scariest time of year for parents is nearly here. Are you afraid of what back-to-school shopping season can do to your budget?

This year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects back-to-school spending will hit $80.7 billion. For the average parent, this ends up being nearly $700.

It’s not always easy covering a bill this big. But it’s possible. If you expect to outfit your kids with what they need without going broke, follow these simple tips below.

Find out Your Budget

Does $700 make sense for your finances? You won’t know until you make a budget. This essential financial document helps you figure out what you can afford to spend on school supplies without making it hard to cover your other bills.

In other words, it shows you the boundaries of your financial reach.

If yours is a lot shorter than you were expecting, remember this for next year. Make back-to-school shopping a permanent entry in your budget, so you can save up in little increments throughout the year.

Prioritize Your Shopping

If you’re like most parents, your budget falls short of what you need. But don’t worry. You don’t have to send your child to school emptyhanded.

Write down what you need and then rank it in order of how much your child needs it for the first day of school. Once you go through your list, you probably can break down your shopping into multiple tiers. Some things you’ll need to get right away, while other things can wait a few weeks or even months.

Don’t Impulse Shop

The stores are chaos right before school starts. With big sales and promotions promising the biggest discounts, it’s all too easy to fall into a trap.

When your cart’s full of supplies and new clothes, what’s the big deal if you drop in a cute jacket and lunch pail? Who cares if you have to put it on a personal line of credit and pay it off later? At 50% off, they’re deals too good to pass up, right?

Impulse shopping with a personal line of credit is one of the biggest things new parents do to hurt their credit. It’s also a big deal if you’re a not-so-new parent. Impulse shopping can convince you to spend far more than you planned even if this isn’t your first rodeo.

A personal line of credit is better used as a safety net in case something unexpected comes your way. It isn’t an excuse to load up on purchases you don’t need.

To control impulse shopping, keep your list on you at all times. Like your budget, a list is an amazing organizational tool that helps you stay on track. If you follow it closely, you can avoid overspending on things you don’t need.

Bring Your Phone with You

Your phone is more than just a tool to map out your route to the next store. It’s an easy way to save as long as you download the right shopping apps.

Take a look at this list to find ones that suit your shopping style. If you use them at every opportunity, you’ll be able to find the cheapest prices, significant discounts, and even cashback on some purchases.

Back-to-school shopping is one of the most expensive times of the year for families. But it doesn’t have to break your budget. Remember these tips as you outfit your kids with new clothes and supplies and good luck! You’ll help you get what you need without overspending.