Back-to-school season is exciting and overwhelming all at once. Regardless of the emotions the new transition brings, you can make it affordable while ensuring your child has everything they need as they start the new school year.
Here are some smart ways to create your back-to-school budget, tips to get the most bang for your buck while shopping the back-to-school sales, and why you should start preparing for the 2024 school year today.
The number one way to save on back-to-school supplies is not to spend money in the first place. One great way to do this is to see what you already have in your house that your child can use during the upcoming school year.
There are a ton of items you can use from year-to-year. For example, your student may not need a brand new backpack every year, or they might be able to reuse the scissors they used in fourth grade for fifth grade.
After you know what you actually do and don’t need to buy, it’s time to establish a budget. Using tools like SmartSpend on your Payactiv Visa card will help you calculate how much you can spend without being late on your other bills.
You can continue using this feature as you shop for real-time updates to ensure you stay within budget.
One of the most expensive items that might be on your back-to-school list is technology. Whether you’re shopping for laptops, tablets, or software, sign up for the store’s student discount program.
Here are some common retailers that offer these discounts to college students, though sometimes they’re also available to parents of college students:
If the discounts each company offers aren’t sufficient, consider buying used or older versions of the device your child needs. You can generally take advantage of substantial savings if they can get by with a device that isn’t brand new.
It’s easy to find school supplies for under $1 from July through September. Places like Staples, Target, and Walmart sell things like notebooks, crayons, pencils, and glue sticks for as low as $0.50. Sometimes the price can even get as low as $0.25.
If you have a little extra money in your back-to-school budget, consider stocking up while prices are low so you’ll have enough supplies for an entire year. This way, you won’t have to pay full price for supplies as the school year progresses, safeguarding your budget in the long run.
Shopping sales when buying clothes for the new school year is wise, but there’s a helpful strategy for back-to-school clothes shopping that goes beyond sales. It involves taking the time to understand return policies so you can use them to your advantage.
Some stores give you an extremely long return window. This means if there are any clothes your kids grow out of quickly or end up not wearing, you could make a return for a full refund, even if you’ve already removed the tags. Certain stores may even let you return an item after your child wears it.
Here are some stores with forgiving return policies:
When you make a purchase, you’ll pay the item’s retail price plus sales tax. These taxes are usually a percentage of the item’s price and increase the overall cost of what you buy. Sales taxes vary by location, and the government imposes them to generate revenue.
Some states offer sales tax holidays where shoppers don’t have to pay sales tax on the items they purchase. In some cases, these weekends will coincide with the back-to-school shopping season. While not all shoppers will have access to this potential savings opportunity, if you live in a state that offers tax-free weekends, you can stretch your back-to-school budget further.
In 2023, 16 states are participating in these weekends in July and August to help parents save on back-to-school shopping expenses. If you need to buy supplies, you can see if your state is participating in any of these weekends and plan your shopping to coincide with those dates.
If your back-to-school needs exceed your budget this year, you may want to start saving for next year now to avoid the same headache in 2024. Spreading the costs out over 12 months is far more manageable than trying to round up the money at the last minute.
You can use tools from Payactiv to reach your savings goals. With Goal-Based Savings1, you can set a savings goal for your future back-to-school shopping in just a few minutes. The tool will then tell you how much to set aside each time you receive your paycheck to ensure you are covered when back-to-school season 2024 rolls around.
With a well-planned budget and smart shopping habits, you can find ways to make the back-to-school season affordable. If you’re struggling to cover everything in 2023, use that as a signal to prepare for 2024 today, even though it’s a year away. That way, next year’s back-to-school season will be stress-free.
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