5 Tips for Not Going Broke on Back to School Items

Can you believe summer’s almost over? This year seemed particularly fast for some reason, but in any case, advertisers have decided it’s back to school time. I’m seeing back to school ads already selling all manner of pencils, lunchboxes, fall clothes and computers.

Like every year, you will need to buy certain things for your kids, and yes, you want them to have some things they really want. But, do not fall victim to the hype! Some things can be reused, and some can wait.

Here are my top 5 tips for back to school purchasing:

  1. DO AN INVENTORY of what you already have. How does the lunchbox look? Can you find your kid’s calculator or pencil case. Have your child try on some of last year’s clothes and see what fits and what is still in decent condition. Do it for shoes, too. It’s a fun fashion show.
  2. MAKE A SPENDING LIMIT for necessary items. See how much you have for back to school items. You may not have spent much in August and have a little more for September. In general, $150-$250 per child (does not include specialty sports or computer equipment) ought to get them through the fall without being laughed at or making you crazy. This does not apply to kids going off to college who may need bigger equipment.
  3. PRIORITIZE – Make a list of ‘Must Haves,’ ‘Nice to Haves’ and ‘Will Buy a Few Months from Now.’ Do not feel like you have to buy everything at once. Take your list and sit down with your child (if they are over about 6) and decide what they need right away and what can wait. Also, make a list of items you may want them to save up for or do special chores to get.
  4. KEEP TABS ON SPENDINGuse an app (here’s my favorite app for simple tracking) or piece of paper and keep tabs on how much you’ve spent. If you are getting close, tell your kids and ask them to help you prioritize any remaining items.
  5. GET BUY-IN – Get your kids to help you choose what is important since they cannot have everything they want. If new sneakers are critical for your child, what is she willing to forsake to get them? They can learn to make good decisions and live with bad decisions and you do not have to be the bad guy all the time by saying ‘NO’ to everything.

The key is not to jump in feet first just because every advertiser is saying it’s BACK TO SCHOOL TIME. Sit back, breathe, and do my 5 tips. You will spend less and also waste less.