Where has the time gone? We’re already in the middle of September, the leaves are slowly changing, the days are cooling down and the kids are back in school. The start of a new school year is a hectic time for any parent, and it can be even harder than usual to keep track of your finances during the back-to-school shopping season and beyond.
I’ve already shared some of my top tips for saving on school supplies and clothes, but a lot can be done to cut down on yearly school expenses even after the initial shopping is done! These are the top tips and tricks that I find help keep my school-related spending in check:
Keep Track of School Supplies
We all know that buying school supplies at the start of the year can be a costly ordeal. Depending on what grade your little one is going into and how many children you have, the expenses add up quickly. So, now that school is started, make sure to keep an eye on how your child is using their school supplies so you can make plans about what will be good for next year. My boys needed dictionaries for the first time this year, so I’m making sure to remind them to take care of their books!
Of course, some school supplies last better than others, so it makes sense to take some time to research what lasts. I’ve always maintained that it’s often smarter to invest in something that may be a little more pricy, but will last longer. There are a lot of great buying guides online that can help you know what you want when looking for the perfect gear to make sure your little one succeeds.
Packing lunches can be a hassle, especially for those working parents that just want to kick back when they get off work. Sending money for your child to buy lunch may be convenient, but it can really add up in the long run. Five to ten dollars a day for the cafeteria (or a nearby restaurant if your child is older) equals hundreds of dollars by the time the year ends!
But even if your child doesn’t like the usual ham sandwich, you can still pack a kid-friendly lunch! Packing up lunch the night before school can become a fun group activity for you and your child. Kids are never too young to start cooking, and there are plenty of great online cooking guides for both beginners and pros. Try these lunch recipes from the Food Network that are tasty and easy to make! Packing a daily lunch will help your little ones realize the importance of cooking for themselves, and will make the occasional days they can buy lunch at school feel special!
Be Conscious of School Spending
There are a number of costs a lot of people forget about when sending their children back to school. Signing up younger kids for sports and other activities usually comes with costly fees. And older children starting or continuing college may spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks. It’s important to budget for the school year and take advantage of different resources that can help you save on more expensive items.
Shopping online, be it through Amazon or niche Facebook groups, can save a lot of money. Put out a call for the textbooks your child needs in a local online group to find what you need quickly. Best of all, you’ll be able to avoid the hassle of busy stores during back-to-school season. On a larger scale, this infographic from the Loan and Go resource section offers some insightful tips on saving during back-to-school as well as some interesting statistics on the Canadian school system.
Personally, I find that my yearly school expenses can soon overwhelm the initial school purchases if I’m not careful. So I make sure to always keep track of the costs involved in my boys’ schooling and try to make smart money choices whenever I can, whether that’s by replacing depleted supplies with ones from home or investing in a used band instrument to save on yearly rental fees. With a little planning and some discipline, I can ensure my boys have a great school year and I still have money to spare when June arrives!