One of the most important planning tools for any big expense is a budget. But even though we all know it’s coming every year, back-to-school shopping can sneak up on parents. According to a Coupons.com consumer panel survey, nearly half (40%) of parents reported spending more than they budgeted for back-to-school shopping.
To avoid this budget bomb, start looking at what’s already in your kids’ closets and planning out what you’ll need to buy. When it comes to unforeseen costs associated with back to school, nearly half (49%) of parents stated that clothing was at the top of their list. With a detailed list of exactly what you need to buy, and the willpower to resist impulse splurges, you’ll be able to stick to your back-to-school budget.
In addition, more than 1 in 3 people reported the biggest pain point around back-to-school shopping was recalibrating their household budget for back-to-school season.
So how can you avoid these back-to-school pitfalls? Step one should be including your back-to-school expenses in your yearly budget, way before you even start thinking about school buses and pencils. Think about what you will need to buy new, and what can be repurposed. Do you have older kids who can pass down outgrown clothes? Will you need to buy any special school supplies, or can you raid the office closet?
Step two involves some more planning. If you can spread out your purchases throughout the year your budget isn’t getting a big hit every fall. Buying off-season also requires some planning. You can probably get big savings on a winter coat by buying it during the spring sales, but you need to mark on your calendar to hunt down those deals.
When you figure out what you DO need to buy, savvy shoppers can rack up some big savings. A whopping 63% of parents stated that they won’t go into a store to shop for back-to-school unless they have a coupon or discount to apply towards their purchase. This money-saving strategy can also save you some time. Plan your trip to the mall based on your coupons. Where are you going to park? Grab lunch? Make sure all of your family meeting points are near stores with a coupon.
Pay attention to the date, as well. Many states offer tax-free weekends during back-to-school season, often in the beginning of August. While some only cover clothing, many include school supplies, which may make it possible to get things like wastebaskets and desk lamps tax-free.
Still feel overwhelmed with back-to-school season? Start here: