The ABC’s of Back-to-School Expenses and Budgeting
You’ve bought the backpacks, pencils, markers, glue sticks, and folders. If you think you are through with your back to school budget for the year, think again! The real expenses add up only once the school year begins and is in full swing. Think sports equipment, classes, band instruments, class parties, homecoming dances, lunch money… the list goes on!
It’s about time to get ahead of the curve and do your homework before the additional expenses creep up on you. Here are some expenses you need to include in your budget now and a few tips to help you save hundreds on back to school supplies.
School clothes can be pricey, but they don’t necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg if you shop smart. Firstly, do an inventory check of all the clothes that your child has, so you can focus on what you really need. Second, buy only the basics like jeans, t-shirts, socks, and a pair of shoes right before school starts. Chances are, once school begins, your child will have completely different views on what trends he or she would like to follow. Plus, the prices for summer clothes drops in the Fall as the new season’s collection hit the stores. Finally, be sure to check the school handbook for their dress code policy. Many schools don’t allow expression tees with writing on them, hats, sandals, crop tops, and short skirts to name a few. And a little tip for next school year, stock up on winter essentials in early spring. Just be sure to stick to the classics when you shop one season in advance!
Sports can teach children the value of teamwork, commitment, and dedication, all while helping them build social connections. Whether your child is a part of a sports team or a club, there will always be additional costs associated with things like pom-poms for your daughter’s cheerleading squad or jerseys for your son’s soccer team. That calls for fundraising! Sure, you can bake and sell cookies until your freezer’s full but you could try a few out-of-the-box ideas as well.
– Host a potluck picnic at the park and charge a flat ticket fee. Promote it on your social network. Hold games and contests to keep your audience engaged.
– Have one of your sports team members organize a fitness class like yoga or Zumba. Set a flat price per person or leave it open by asking participants to donate online. There are plenty of free online fundraising platforms to choose from these days.
– Strike a deal with a bowling alley and organize a bowl-a-thon. Chances are that a local bowling alley may even allow you to reserve lanes for free at a non-peak hour. Promote the event around the neighborhood and with local businesses in your area. Charge an entry fee per team or per individual. Bowl-a-thons are fun, family-friendly, and can get quite competitive if planned and promoted well in advance.
Labeling helps your child identify their supplies at school. Pieces of clothing that often get taken off at school like winter jackets, hats, gloves, and gym clothes should also be labeled. This will not guarantee a loss, but it at least increases the odds of a lost item being found.
We understand the constant 8 am struggles that most parents go through. While it may seem like a no brainer to have your child buy lunch at school for that extra 15 minutes of sleep, your budget might beg to differ. The $2.50 every single day for 5 days a week adds up! Plan ahead of time to make a weekly lunch plan so you’re not wasting time trying to figure out what to pack in the morning. Invest in an insulated lunch bag rather than using disposable paper bags each day. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but it’s also better for the environment. Get them in their favorite characters and they’re sure to be a hit with the kids.
While snack packs don’t break the bank, they do cost a lot when you get them at vending machines. Buy larger containers of snacks and throw them in individual ziplock bags ahead of time. The same applies to things like cheese, nuts, and pretzels. Buying the larger blocks of cheese and cutting them into cubes is a lot more cost-efficient than buying individually wrapped pre-cubed cheese.
Back to School Budget:
Another great back to school savings tip is to involve your older kids in on the budgeting. Set clear expectations so they know exactly what you will be paying for during the year and what they would have to save up for. If they need to go to the movies every Friday, have them help with a few extra chores around the house during the week so they can earn the extra $20.
Finally, take some time out each month to track your expenses to see if you’re overspending and make a conscious effort to inculcate healthy spending habits in your kids at a young age. Teenagers and young adults give in to peer pressure and feel a need to buy certain items just to “fit in”. As parents, we must lead by example and teach our kids that value does not come from our possessions. Allow your child to buy one splurge item occasionally so it encourages them to rethink before shelling out extra bucks and inspires them to adopt healthy spending habits.
And now you can use the uLinkcard Prepaid Mastercard® to manage your child’s back to school expenses too. Visit www.ulinkcard.com to learn more.