How to Budget for Back-to-School Expenses

September 2, 2020
Back to School

Summer’s gone in a second, even if it may not feel that way with kids at home. Soon enough, they’ll be back in the classroom and learning their times tables. 

And as fall rolls around, they won’t be the only ones to dust off their math skills. You, too, may need a primer as you balance your back-to-school budget.

For many families dealing with the loss of income because of the pandemic, saving where you can has never been more important.  With this in mind, check out these tips to help you save money when your kids go back to school.

Know Your Budget

If you’re not earning as much as you usually do, it’s time to adjust your budget to reflect that. Sitting down with your finances in this way can help you see how much you have to spare on back-to-school spending.

If it’s less than you thought you had, you may be tempted to put all your shopping on a line of credit. But consider your line of credit limit as a safety net; you only want to use it in case of a true unexpected emergency. 

While falling short of what you need for your child’s back-to-school needs may feel like an emergency, it’s not as dire as you may think, nor is it unexpected. Before using a line of credit, check out this minimum wage budget plan for ideas on how to cut your expenses. These tips help you save money on a shoestring budget, so you may free up more cash to put towards your child’s needs.

Create a Plan of Attack

Knowing how much everything will cost is another crucial detail of back-to-school shopping. That means waiting until your child’s teacher sends out their supplies checklist

While it may seem smarter to get a jump on your shopping as soon as possible, you run the risk of buying things you don’t need when you shop without a list. Sticking to the official checklist will help you keep unnecessary items out of your cart.

Shop Online Carefully

If you opt to shop online due to social distancing rules, be wary of shipping fees. While many stores offer free shipping, many do not. When you’re on a tight budget, a small fee can eat into your budget.These fees can add up if you end up having to shop from multiple online stores!

To get around shipping fees, shop from a store where you can also stock up on other items you were planning on getting, like groceries or household supplies. Adding these items to your cart may push you over the threshold, but only buy them if you need them.

Plan a Supply Swap

Clothes, shoes, calculators, and backpacks. They make up a lot of the things your children need that don’t necessarily have to be brand new. Reach out to friends, family, and neighbors to see if anyone has gently used hand-me-downs they’re willing to swap. 

If you don’t know anyone personally, head online. There’s bound to be parent communities where you can organize a swap

Back-to-School on a Budget — It’s Possible!


If back-to-school shopping is so expensive that you want to pretend it isn’t going to happen, you aren’t alone. Plenty of families are struggling with bills nowadays. But ignoring your responsibilities will only make them worse. By addressing these expenses in advance, you have time to plan around these bills. And anything is easier to handle when you have a plan on your side.  

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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