Tips for back-to-school budgeting
The shopping is the fun part — then comes paying the bills.
The money spent during back-to-school season is second only to Christmas. Here are some tips for back-to-school budgeting from the University of Illinois Extension:
Assemble lists and ads. Budget how you are going to spend your money. Without a creating a limit, you will spend too much. Take last year's total and try to spend less.
Only allow each child one "trendy" item. Only buy one or two new outfits for the beginning of school. Buy the remaining school clothes as the year progresses.
Cash — no credit cards. You don't want to add to the already escalating cost of back to school by adding the interest you will pay by adding these expenses to your credit card balance. The exception would be if you pay your balance in full every month and if you have a rewards card so you get something in return. Keep in mind though, when you use plastic (debit or credit cards) research shows people spend on average 30 percent more than when they use cash.
Don't shop for clothes all at once. Stores are offering deals every week between now and the middle of September. Buy as much as you can on sale and as little as possible on full priced items.
Do not take kids with you on most of your shopping trips, if you can help it. Two kid-friendly strategies ... 1) Take them on a special trip for that one special trendy item they must have ... and 2) Give them a small budget for something.
For high school-aged kids, give them their clothing budget and tell them how long it has to last.
Save a chunk of your budget for items that will need to be replaced during the year.
Save all your receipts and your budget worksheet. Use these to plan next year's budget and begin putting a little money away each month for the 2015 school year.