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Back to School Budgeting 101

Back to School Budgeting 101

By Alex Porter • August 01, 2018

It doesn’t matter if you’re sending your little one off for the first day of kindergarten or senior year of high school, Back to School season can be stressful for anyone.

New classes. New people. New tests. New jeans, socks, glue sticks, highlighters, backpacks, books, red pens, sneakers…SO. MANY. SUPPLIES.

But take a deep a breath, you’ve got this.

Even if you waited until August to get moving, there’s still plenty of time to get prepared for the year ahead. Here are some tips to get you on the right track.

Check your inventory

The garage. The basement. The junk drawer. Raid it all. You’ll be surprised to see how many pens, pencils, perfectly good folders and half used notebooks are hiding around the house. Hit up the office, too. You’ve probably got some unused supplies in that bottom drawer you never open.

Tax-free is the way to be

Don’t forget to take advantage of tax-free shopping days. Depending on where you live, you can grab clothes, school supplies and even a new laptop – all tax-free. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of sales tax holidays.

Plan ahead

  • Set your budget. Before you even start shopping, create a list of all the things you need. Only include what you truly, 100% can’t do without. Estimate the cost of each item, add it all up and that’s your golden number. Then, work that number into your overall household budget. (Here's an online budget calculator that can help.) The ultimate back-to-school win? Staying under budget.

  • Develop routines. If you know the cafeteria serves can’t-miss pizza on Fridays, make that part of the weekly plan. Then try to make homemade lunches Monday through Thursday so lunch-money spending doesn’t get out of hand. It’s all about balance. And pepperoni.

  • Start saving up. Set aside a few bucks from each paycheck for an ongoing “school activities” fund. That way you don’t have to sweat it when other expenses start popping up throughout the year, like that $30 field trip to the aquarium or a snazzy new tie for the homecoming dance.

Have fun and get it done. Try to look at the back-to-school season as a new challenge, not as some impossible task. (Because it’s not one!)

Use sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady to score the best deals. Get crafty and create a few DIY school supplies. Get your kids involved — a few quick lessons on budgeting/smart-shopping can go a long way.

Summer’s not quite over yet but the clock is ticking. Make some great decisions now, and you’ll set the tone for an entire school year of awesomeness. Good luck out there!

The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. The companies and individuals (other than OneMain Financial’s sponsored partners) referred to in this message are not sponsors of, do not endorse, and are not otherwise affiliated with OneMain Financial.