Summer vacation is a magical time of year no matter what age you are and is especially so for many students. It's a chance to take a break from homework and studying, and spend a little time relaxing and having fun. But doesn’t it seem like just as you settle into a good summer groove, it’s time to start thinking about the back-to-school season again?
We agree! And want to help make the transition to plan for the new school year easy and stress free. Choosing a perfect first-day-of-school outfit, having to navigate a new bus route, or switching schools can be stressful, but the process can also put a strain on your budget. Here is a back-to-school money-saving checklist of tips to help you and your student prepare for a successful first day of school and new academic year.
Plan, Plan, Plan and Start With a List!
Think about what you may need in terms of new clothes, shoes, school supplies, textbooks, electronics, and more. Once you’re armed with a list it will help you resist the urge to make impulse purchases or buy unnecessary items along the way.
Prioritize Needs Versus Wants
Assess what your child needs versus what they want. As a parent, it’s easy to give into extravagant purchases like an expensive pair of new sneakers or a fancy backpack to help ease first day of school jitters for a nervous child. But try not to let emotions drive your spending.
If you want to splurge, make comprises such as buying one special item. Fill your "needs" list first and if anything can wait, buy it as it becomes available at reduced prices later in the year. It’s never too early to teach children about money, and our blog Raising Children to Appreciate the Value of a Dollar has some great suggestions to help you get started!
Set Your Budget
Always set a maximum spending limit so you know how much money you have allocated to spend for the back to school season. Shop around to price out the items you need and adjust your list as needed to stay within budget. Invite children to participate in the process! It’s a great way to teach them a valuable financial lesson that they will carry with them throughout life.
Try out this How much am I spending?calculator to help you with your budget.
Capitalize on Opportunities to Save
Before you head to the store, check around the house to see what you already have in stock. You may be surprised to find left over school supplies from last year. It’s easy for pens, pencils, and glue sticks to get lost in the clutter, but it’s worth taking time to organize what you already have to help save money.
Take advantage of any student discounts that may be available to you and always look for online resources for free or reduced-cost textbooks. Idea: If your child wears school uniforms, check for a uniform swap in your area.
Shop Around and Be Creative
Always try to compare deals whenever you have the opportunity. You may discover some great back-to-school sales. And don't be afraid to check the local dollar store for additional savings—they often have inexpensive options for school supplies. Buying generic is another great way to save and so is shopping at the neighborhood thrift store.
Use the extra cash to open a Lakeland Bank Young Savers to really maximize the money you saved. And, if your child is beginning their college journey or their first job, explore Lakeland Bank's Student Checking account to set them on the path to managing money wisely.
In the end, gearing up for the new school year doesn’t have to break the budget. Being savvy by planning ahead, identifying needs vs wants and shopping sales for school essentials will allow you to save in the long run. And remember, it’s the perfect chance to start teaching kids how to build good financial habits.
If college is in your student’s future, you may enjoy reading 4 Ways to Fund a College Education.