Top 12 Budget-Friendly Tips for Back-to-School Spending


Getting the kids ready to go back to school is an exciting time for a family. The anticipation of starting a new school year, meeting new friends, and getting back into a routine is something most kids and parents look forward to every year. The best part (for the kids at least) is getting all new school stuff—there’s just something about the smell of a fresh set of colored pencils that makes school-loving kiddos all giddy.

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If this isn’t your first rodeo, you know that the cost of school supplies alone can be outrageous. Not to mention the new shoes and clothes your kids might need. Add it all up and back-to-school season can be a major budget buster. The one great thing, though, is that the first day of school happens the same time every year. You know what that means? You can budget and plan for it!

I know, I know. You’re probably not as excited about budgeting as I am, but when you have a budget, you’ll likely feel less stressed (or guilty) about spending money on school expenses. A couple of months ahead of the first day of school, say in the beginning of summer, start setting aside a certain amount of money each month to be sent on school items. After a few months of doing this, you’ll have your budget ready to go when it comes time to shop for school.


Then, keep this going throughout the year. For example, the holiday season is a time when spending might increase on school-related items. If the kids have a holiday-themed party or play, you may need to buy a costume or treat for the class. Thinking ahead a few months at a time will help you be more prepared when school expenses might pop up.

Check out these top tips for more ways to stay budget-friendly when it comes to school expenses:

  1. Pack lunches when possible

  2. Buy generic brands of school supplies

  3. Wait to see if your kids actually need something (don’t blindly purchase everything on a school-provided list)

  4. Think ahead to the holidays (school plays, donation drives, teacher gifts, etc.)

  5. Set a budget for supplies and stick to it

  6. Buy second-hand uniforms

  7. Teach your kids to take care of their things so you don’t have to buy new things (wink, wink)

  8. Buy some items after the first weeks of school (to avoid price markups and shop clearance)

  9. Price-shop on those trendy items your child just has to have (hello, Toy Story lunchbox) or check Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp

  10. Use coupons for big ticket items like backpacks, calculators and books

  11. Limit after school activities to one per season

  12. Reuse items from last school year


Sticking to a budget and not overspending on school items is also a great way to start the conversation about money with your kids. Take them shopping with you and give them the cash they have to spend. Once the total comes up at the register, let them hand over the cash and carry their own items to the car. Even simple tasks like this will open their eyes to the fact that things cost money and mom and dad can’t buy everything.


I hope these tips help you stay on budget this school year. Do you have tips that help you save money on school expenses? Share them with me on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!

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