In today’s 2 minute Q&A, We’re talking about back-to-school tips to help you save money and your budget. As a parent that’s recently transitioned one child out of pre-k and another into pre-k. Putting your kids in school isn’t as smooth sailing as we think it is. When my kids started school I was scared and just lost on what I needed to do for my kids. But eventually, I learned and am now able to share some budgeting tips that have helped me.
The back-to-school season is an overwhelming time of excitement and fear for many parents. Our babies going out into the real world and let’s be real preparing for back-to-school is expensive. Veteran parents know that staying on budget for back-to-school is easier said than done. But when all your kids want are unicorn and dinosaur backpacks, and cute accessories. You start to realize that everything that puts a smile on our kid’s faces is starting to add up quickly. Making budgeting for back-to-school feel more like an extreme sport than exciting.
Make Parent School Friends
If you don’t already have friends that go to your child’s school, you want to open yourself to making some. I realized that the schools are pretty late on informing parents about what’s going on. Having friends that go to your kid’s school is key to staying on top of the need-to-know information. I know this isn’t a real budgeting tip, but it’s been a real benefit for me as a parent.
I know this might sound silly, but ask a lot of questions. Like I said, knowing more information can to be very beneficial to your back-to-school shopping list. Here are some of my top questions to ask before you buy any back-to-school items or start creating a budget.
- Does the school require uniforms or not, and if so what colors are they?
- Do the students have to wear uniform 5 days a week? Is there a casual day or fitness day that requires workout clothes?
- Is food provided to the student and if so, is there a student meal program you need to sign up for? Or do you need to pack them lunch?
- What supplies are needed for your child’s grade? Does your child need backpacks, lunchpails, waterbottles, or extra clothes?
Since covid is a big issue still, here are some extra questions you should consider asking:
- Will masks be provided or will every student need to bring their own?
- Does the class need any donated items like disinfecting wipes and spray, kleenex, hand sanitizer, or zip lock bags?
- If the school gets shut down again, will laptops or chromebooks be provided to the students?
Back-to-School Shopping List
Regardless of your child’s school requires uniforms or not, you still have to create a list of back-to-school clothes. Including jackets, shoes, sweaters, hair supplies, workout clothes, socks, and the list can go on and on. I personally, list out all of my child’s clothing needs and price match these items to get the best deal. I love shopping for shoes and sweaters at my neighborhood outlet to get quality pieces at an outlet price range. Here are a few of my favorite stores to price match for my kid’s clothing: Target, Walmart, Amazon, Gap, Old Navy, Kholes, and Costco.
Create 3 Shopping Lists
This year I learned a very difficult and avoidable mistake when preparing for back-to-school. I thought that I had my kid’s water bottles ready to go for the first day of school. Until that morning, when I realized that the straw was missing from all the water bottles. I felt horrible because my kids didn’t have water bottles, while everyone else in the class did. But also because I assumed I had everything my kids needed because I saw that it was in the cupboards. Moving forward, I’ll be creating 3 back-to-school shopping lists to make sure I double-check that I have everything I need.
- “Things I already have” shopping list, like waterbottles, ziplock bags, and sweaters.
- “School supplies” shopping list, like uniforms, backpacks, and pencil box.
- “Home supplies” shopping list, like glue, sizers, markers, and construction paper.
School Uniform Tips
When it comes to school uniforms specifically, I budget for these expenses a bit more strategically. Once you know your kid’s school uniform colors and how many days a week they need to wear the uniform. You can then start mapping out how many uniforms you actually need to buy. I personally buy a total of 10 uniform sets for my kids, let me explain.
7 uniform sets are bought for my kid’s current size. 5 is for the days of the week, 1 for school just in case of accidents, and 1 for home accidents.
3 uniform sets are bought a size up from my kid’s current size.
I’ve learned the hard way that once the back-to-school season is over. You don’t realize how difficult it is to find uniforms in most stores. Having a few extra uniforms a size up gives me time to order new uniforms online. Because even 2-day shipping still takes 2 days to get to your home.
When it comes to actually budget for back-to-school, I personally love shopping online. Nowadays you can either pick them up the items at the store or have the items delivered to the house. But the biggest budgeting reward that I get from online shopping is that you can add all of your items to the cart. Then you can easily see how much everything costs without going into the store. Knowing these actual prices can help you know exactly how much money you need for back-to-school shopping.
Now, the best practice for budgeting for back-to-school is to use sinking funds to pre-save for these expenses. This is the best-case scenario, but it’s not always your real scenario. If you don’t have money pre-saved, I would take a deeper look into your budget. As parents, we have to make the numbers work even if it means making some sacrifices that limit our conveniences. This might be taking a step back on eating out, buying clothes for ourselves, or even lowering your entertainment budget. Or you can pick up a side hustle or contribute less to your savings and other financial goals. The main point here is to get everything your kids need for school without going into debt for it. Even if it means being a little less comfortable in order to do so.
Cash Back with Rakuten
Once I’ve created a specific shopping list, price matched and got enough money set aside for back-to-school shopping. I personally love using Rakuten to help me make money while shopping for my kid’s clothes, school supplies, and even for Christmas. Rakuten is a cash-back app that allows you to get a percentage back from your purchases. The reason Rakuten works for me is that they’re already partnered with all of my favorite stores and more.
I use Rakuten in a strategic way to help me stay on budget and make money. I do this by using the Rakuten extension button that can be downloaded and preset onto your browser. This way I can just get notified of any cashback promotions and coupons while shopping. Instead of getting distracted by what store is offering the highest cash-back. I share more about this technique and how to use it in my Rakuten Q&A video.
If you’re interested in joining Rakuten, right now they have a $30 sign-up bonus for you and me when you make a qualified purchase using my link below.
Rakuten Link: https://www.rakuten.com/r/SAHIRE5?eeid=28187
Even though I am a new mom to the back-to-school scene. I’ve learned so much when it comes to budgeting for school needs. Our kid’s education is a big deal to me and just making sure that my kids have everything they need for school warms my heart. These are the best tips that I’ve learned as of right now and I know they will benefit a lot of new moms entering the school year.