Financing “Back to School” Expenses

Days are getting shorter, leaves are changing colors and—Yay!—children are going back to school! The not so fun part of Fall for many, though, is the laundry list of school supplies and back-to-school necessities that an already stretched budget has to stretch even further to finance. Here’s a few tips, tricks and handy techniques to help make sure your back-to-school pupil is covered and your budget stays in check.

Back to school

Don’t fall victim to (or into debt due to) tradition. Sure, tradition says go buy your child an entirely new back to school wardrobe, but you certainly don’t have to. Instead, take stock of what’s already in his or her closet and dresser. Mend and repair less than perfect items in order to extend their useful life and determine what really is needed and what isn’t. Purchase only what’s truly necessary, or choose to limit your kiddo to only one or two new pieces. Save the cash to use during the school year when they’ll undoubtedly really need the new clothing.

Don’t shop all in one place and all at one time. It may be tempting to get done all at one time and in one place. After all, it certainly is convenient. But you’ll likely pay dearly for it. Retailers are notorious for luring in consumers with the promise of a few great deals that they themselves may actually lose money on. They’re willing to take the loss on a few items in the hope that you’ll fork over more on items not offered such a great price. And, you know, what? It usually works. Once a shopper is already in the store, it’s much harder to resist just finishing up all the shopping then and there. Commit to only purchasing the great deals and walk out to the next store to do the same. It’s admittedly more effort, but your bottom line will also undoubtedly thank you.

Stockpile for later on in the year. It may seem foolish to purchase 10 packs of pencils, 8 boxes of crayons and 15 spiral-bound notebooks now, but it makes good sense and cents to do so. You’ll not see prices this low for another 12 months or so, and your child needing more supplies throughout the school year is a given. So, why not make the additional savings a guarantee as well. The small inconvenience of having to store the items is far outweighed by the tremendous savings, peace of mind and convenience later on.

Spend a bit more for things that will last. It doesn’t always pay to be excessively cheap. Sure, it may feel good initially, but the thrill is quickly extinguished when you’re left forking out more money for a replacement shortly after. Backpacks, 3-ring binders, reusable lunch bags and boxes are all worthy of a bit more money upfront. These are the items your child uses daily and will likely wear out the fastest. A bit more cash spent now for a sturdier purchase helps safeguard your time, energy and money later on.

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

One Response to “Financing “Back to School” Expenses”

  1. sophie |  Sep 02, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Luckily, there are stores like Staples that have back to school supplies starting at a penny