Back to School Bills
With the first day of classes starred and circled on the family calendar, the whole house is counting down until the big day. Your kids are eyeing the date with some trepidation, knowing math homework is soon to follow.
Long division, integers, and cosine functions are what awaits them in the classroom, but they aren’t the only ones who can expect math lessons in the near future. Though your school days are long behind you, you’ll be pulling out the calculator as you face balancing your back-to-school budget.
Last year, the country spent more than $83 billion on back-to-school shopping. For most parents of children in grades K-12, that averages out to $1,000—putting back-to-school shopping on par with Christmas. It isn’t always easy accommodating this kind of bill. If you expect to get everything on your list without going broke, check in with this easy guide to fall shopping.
Be prepared for this expensive season by using a budget and a list. A budget helps you figure out what you can afford to spend on the upcoming school year. Once you have a number in mind, you can use a list to make sure you don’t spend too much of your budget on one item.
You don’t want to sink half of your cash on your children’s fall wardrobe, only to realize you don’t have enough left over to get them a necessary calculator. Pay close attention to the cost of individual items and make sure their collective cost comes under your limits.
Know when to splurge and when to save
You can stick to your budget if you know to shop savvy. The official supply list will likely come with approved versions of back-to-school items, from BIC pens to Texas Instruments calculators. It’s easy to assume your child needs the exact brand on the list, but that’s rarely the case. You can get away with generic alternatives for most things, including their new fall wardrobe.
When you learn when to splurge and when to save, you can lower your overall bill considerably. Generally, if the item will only last them a year, you should look for savings in cheaper, off-brand substitutes. If, however, you expect the item to last them for a few years, you should consider splurging on a brand name.
For example, it’s worth paying for a reliable, more expensive laptop over a cheaper refurbished one because it will likely last longer. Meanwhile, you can cut corners when you’re buying jeans they’re going to outgrow in the year.
Have a backup plan
When your kids fail a math test, they promise to study harder for the next one to fix their bad grade. When you fail to stick with your budget, you can make the same pledge for the next school year. In order to fix your bad finances, you may need to take proactive measures.
If your back-to-school shopping leaves you unprepared for necessary bills or unexpected repairs this fall, you can get a fast installment loan online. This will help to bridge the gap between your responsibilities and your bank account.
Their online platform makes it possible to apply and repay these cash advance loans quicker and more conveniently than traditional personal loans. Some online lenders, like MoneyKey, make it even quicker by transporting your borrowing experience to a simple app. You can check in on your loan status anytime and anywhere you want.
When you secure an installment loan online, you can cover urgent bills and repairs without delay. As for your promise not to go over budget again, you’ll have to figure out a strategy that prevents overspending that works with your lifestyle.
An app like Mint can help you keep track of your expenses, so you’re always aware of how much you have spent—and how much of your budget you have left to spend. It can also send you notifications when upcoming bills are due and when you’re close to going over your limits.
The start of the school year is stressful enough as everyone gets back into their routines. You don’t need to pour gasoline on the fire by letting back-to-school shopping play havoc with your budget. Be a savvy shopper to keep your expenses in check, and you can tick off every supply on your list without going broke. For more life hacks, visit our tips section.
How do YOU stick to your budget?
Let me know, til then–cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.