Navigating Back-to-School Shopping: A Budget-Friendly Guide

6 Back to School Budgeting Do's and Don'ts

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By Bromwich+Smith Staff | 1137 words | Reading Time: 6 minutes  | Date: 2023/08/25

Back to school shopping is fast approaching and  for many it brings up many emotions. You may be feeling excited for back to school- although you may be less excited about this upcoming season if you are the student going back to class. This time of year doesn’t need to break the bank, as long as you are able to plan ahead and shop wisely. We want to give you some budget-friendly tips and tricks to help you navigate the back-to-school shopping experience successfully regardless of your budget. 

Making a Shopping List 

The first step may seem simple enough, plan some time to sit down and write out your list before you venture out to the stores or open up those online sites. Make the time to plan and strategize. Separate the list into categories such as clothing, school supplies and activities. 

Start with those essential items that your child will need, including school supplies. Many schools will have posted their lists online or may have emailed them out prior to the end of the school year. Take a look at your inventory at home, your child may want a new backpack but perhaps theirs still has some life left to it. By reusing items you will avoid unnecessary expenses. 

Think of what your child will be doing after school, and make a list for those activities. Perhaps they need new runners for their after school sport, or new books for the after school bus ride.  

Timing and Prioritization 

Don't Feel Pressured to Buy Everything at Once! Many parents feel pressure to buy everything on the list at once. Instead, prioritize your purchases and spread them out over a few weeks which spreads them out over a few paycheques. This approach will allow you to take advantage of sales and discounts that may occur during the back-to-school season. 

Prioritize the Essentials When it comes to budgeting for back-to-school shopping. Things that your child really does need: school supplies, backpacks, and shoes. By focusing on the necessities first, you can ensure that you stay within your budget. 

Scouting for Second-Hand Items  

Don't underestimate the value of second-hand items. Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces often have gently used school supplies and clothing at a reduced price. For children who are actively growing, or are harder on clothing this may be a great way to reduce those costs. Alternatively consider dropping off your childrens lightly used items at a second hand store to make some additional money. Your child may have outgrown their themed backpack and ready to move on to the next popular trend, but someone else may love the reduced price tag.  

Shopping with Children 

We know that your kids likely want to help you shop, which can bring on the impossible task of telling them no to overpriced items, and impulse buys. Consider separating your shopping into two trips. One without your child to purchase those items that you might not want extra hands or extra opinions. The second trip bring your child with you. Set a strict budget and provide the items you are looking for. This is ideal for things that need to be tried on, like indoor running shoes! Let your child know the list in advance ie: We need 5 new pairs of pants, 5 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 fancy outfit, and have $150 to spend. If we see anything else we want, we might be able to buy it if it falls in the budget after those items have been picked out.  

Make these teachable moments age appropriate. Depending on their age, involve them in the process by giving them a specific budget for certain items. Encourage them to compare prices, look for deals, and make choices within their allocated budget. These lessons will last a lifetime, and empower them to make informed financial decisions later in life.  

Creative Budgeting 

Look at other ways to reduce your out of pocket expenses by exploring alternative sources of found money. For example, if you have a cash-back credit card, consider using the accumulated rewards to offset some of the costs. If your child is determined to have an item that is out of budget, discuss how it can become an option. Maybe your child will be willing to split the cost, do extra chores to earn the item or sell off some no longer needed items to off set the cost.  

Emergency Fund  

While it's essential to have a budget for back-to-school shopping, it's equally important to maintain your emergency fund. Unexpected expenses can arise at any time, and having a financial safety net will provide peace of mind. Prioritize your emergency fund and avoid depleting it for back-to-school purchases. Keep your back to school shopping in mind all year long, and put aside money throughout the year for the big expenses as well as the smaller school items that will need to be replenished throughout the year.  

Understanding Unforeseen Financial Struggles 

We understand that things happen, and life truly is full of unexpected events that can impact our finances. Being able to recognize that unforeseen circumstances may arise, such as a job loss or a medical emergency can put a strain on your budget. Be prepared for these situations by building a plan for the unplanned. 

Avoiding Debt and Anticipatory Spending 

It can be tempting to indulge during the back-to-school season, especially when advertisements and promotions are everywhere. However, it's crucial to stay disciplined and stick to your budget just because binders are on sale now doesn’t mean you need to get 5 extras just in case. Remember that living within your means is the key to financial stability. 

The Dangers of Anticipatory Spending Anticipatory spending refers to purchasing items that may not be immediately necessary but are bought in anticipation of future needs. This habit can lead to unnecessary expenses and financial strain. Avoid anticipatory spending can result in being over budget now and a potential to struggle purchasing those essential items in the upcoming weeks. Consider postponing non-essential purchases until they are genuinely needed. 

Navigating back-to-school shopping on a budget requires careful planning, prioritization, and smart decision-making. By making a shopping list, involving your child, and creatively managing your budget, you can successfully meet your child's needs while staying within your financial means. We want to hear about your success stories, share with us on Social media about your secrets when it comes to back to school shopping, hidden spots that save you money or any other budget tips you have! 

If you are struggling with additional school expenses piling onto your overwhelming debt, remember that you are not alone. Bromwich+Smith has a number of debt relief strategies to help you regain control of your finances and get your life back. Reach out today for a free, confidential, no obligation consultation. Bromwich+Smith’s Debt Relief Specialists are available for initial free, no obligation, confidential consultation by phone at 1.855.884.9243 or request a call back from our contact us page.    





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