Back to School Expenses

Aug 4, 2021 12:35:04 PM

The average family doing back-to-school shopping spends just under $300 per student – but there are plenty of creative ways to save! Check out this quick guide to help you better plan for back-to-school expenses and save money.

Back-to-School Needs:

  • Stationary supplies: Pencils, crayons and notebooks – oh my!
  • Clothing: Check who has outgrown what, and be especially mindful of outdoor clothing this year as COVID concerns may prompt more outside learning and playtime.
  • Technology: Teachers may recommend certain gear for older students; but overall, make sure your household is equipped with enough thumb drives and Zoom-ready headsets for all.
  • Food: Studies show that kids focus better and learn more when they get enough protein, whole grains and other healthy foods. When school’s in session, this means they need nutrition on-the-go.
  • PPE: This year’s back-to-school list looks a little different. If your kids will be masking up indoors, help them try out a few disposable and reusable options to find one that’s safe and comfortable. Get a face mask keeper clip as well, so they can always have an extra mask in their bag. 

Tips to Save:

  • Tax-free weekend: Since 2018, Massachusetts law designates one weekend per year as an annual sales tax holiday. This year it’s August 14th and 15th – so aim to do your back-to-school shopping then! The more items you can tick off the list over this zero-tax weekend, the more you’ll save.
  • Collaborate on lists: Gets kids involved in making a shopping list for back-to-school supplies! This reduces unexpected expenses for parents, teaches kids about budgeting in a relevant way, and motivates kids to stick to what they really need if they’re tagging along for the shopping trip.
  • Check social media: There might already be a parents’ group in your area to buy, sell and trade school supplies. See what’s out there, and sign up! You’ll likely find steep discounts on school supplies and an easy way to declutter whatever your own kids no longer need.
  • Host a swap: If digital marketplaces aren’t cutting it, consider an in-person school supply swap event. It’s a great activity for the summer that can be turned into a potluck or barbecue if you’re feeling especially social. Ask everyone to bring items to swap and a box so they’re ready to take away items they need.
  • Rethink lunches and snacks: Paying for school lunches or pre-made snack packs adds up quickly. Instead, try alternatives. Could leftovers from last night’s dinner be tomorrow’s lunch? Are your kids old enough to slice cheese, wash grapes and prepare their own bag of snacks? Kitchen creativity is a fun family activity that also saves money.
  • Take advantage of card rewards: If you haven’t done much traveling lately, you might have accrued a good number of credit card points. Check if any rewards can be put toward back-to-school shopping expenses. On the other hand, make sure that any new spending is giving you money back, by shopping with a card that rewards you for purchases.
  • Hit the thrift and dollar stores: While the convenience of a big-box retailer is tempting, you’ll often find better prices and a smaller, more manageable selection at your local thrift and dollar stores. This strategy is especially beneficial for kids – and parents! – who are tempted by impulse purchases when faced with big retailer displays.

Tags: Student Finances, Savings, Money Tips