Depending on where you live, back to school could happen as early as AUGUST 14 (we’re looking at you Milwaukee Public Schools!). It’s hard to think about backpacks and calculators when you’re swatting mosquitoes and soaking up after-dinner sunlight. But follow these tips to manage spending now and you’ll get to relax and enjoy the rest of summer.
- Use your school’s website to get an idea of costs. Most school websites have a basic list of must-have supplies and you can also typically find information about things like the cost of book rentals and sports fees. Don’t forget to plan for field trips and special events. Past experience and other parents can help you guesstimate these.
- Talk to your kids about money. Watching you plan ahead, check prices and cut spending in one area to afford something in another will prepare your kids to be better money managers. Make a list of spending categories: school supplies, clothing, extracurricular, lunch money and other. Then work with your kids to come up with budgets for each and, depending on their age, give them some power to choose how the money is spent. Encourage them to compare prices and look for bargains on supplies.
- Make smart technology choices. Paper, markers and Kleenex can all add up, but technology is where things really get expensive. Try searching for refurbished computers and tablets. They will cost much less than purchasing something brand new.
- Resist the urge to buy new clothes. We’ve all been conditioned to think back to school = new clothes. But stores have sales all the time. Unless your kids have gone through a growth spurt or their shoes are falling off their feet, there’s no real reason for a buying spree. Kids bugging you for something new? Revisit your budget discussion and help them prioritize. Can they babysit, mow lawns or do chores to earn money? Older kids might be intrigued by a clothing swap with friends and the adventure of thrift store shopping or distressing their own denim (YouTube and Pinterest are great resources for this).
- Back away from new credit. Sure, it can seem like a great idea to sign up for the store credit card when you’re about to drop $100+ and could be getting a discount right this minute. But the tradeoff could be more credit than you can handle or the temptation to buy more. Put your purchases on your Summit Visa instead and earn some great rewards!
- Save money every paycheck. You’ll probably have multiple paychecks between now and the first day of school. Divide your total expected costs by the number of paychecks and put that money aside as soon as your paycheck hits your account.
- Check out Summit’s Money Minder tool. It’s a great way to set and meet both short- and long-term financial goals.
Own the school year now, then sit back and enjoy the rest of your summer. You’ve got this!