Another summer is coming to an end, and that means school is just around the corner. Whether your kids are in elementary school or are undergraduates in college, heading back to school can be expensive, especially if you have more than one child. But, there are ways to help keep your expenses in check. Follow these guidelines to help you beat the back-to-school debt blues.
Don’t Buy Anything You Already Have
It’s tempting to purchase all-new school supplies for your children, regardless of whether you already have them at home. But if you do, you’re spending money you don’t need to spend. Take inventory of what you have to determine if you really need to buy new pens, pencils, folders, calculators or even backpacks. If you can use or reuse something you already have, do so.
Buy Only the Essentials
Every child in school will receive a supply list. Review the list with your children and work together to determine what is essential to start school. Purchase only those things that are most necessary to start the year. Then, you can spread out the purchase of other supplies over a month or two into school (or longer). For example, your children really don’t need to bring two Kleenex boxes and two packages of markers on the first day of school. Send them with one of each and send another pack or box later. Getting only those things that are essential for the first couple of weeks of school will help soften the supply list shock to your family’s finances.
Ways to Pay
As soon as you have determined what you must purchase for the first few weeks of school, set a budget and stick to it. A great way to stick to your budget is by using cash. Take the amount of cash you have budgeted for - and nothing more. This will help to eliminate those ever-present impulse purchases. If you must carry your debit card with you, take out a predetermined amount ahead of time and tuck your debit card away so you won’t be tempted to buy items not included in your original budget. If you need to make a larger purchase such as a laptop and don’t have a large amount of cash immediately available, you might opt to use a credit card. This could be a great way to rack up reward points you could use for school supplies later in the year. Just be sure you set a budget in place to pay off your credit card so you won’t be charged any fees.
After creating a budget, head out to shop – When the budget has been depleted, the shopping stops. It’s just that simple.
Build Your Back-to-School Savings
If you know you have trouble saving money, a great option is the My Goal Savings account at BancorpSouth, which is specifically designed to help you save for a goal – like back-to-school expenses. Set up automatic deposits to that account and save money over the course of the year. Then, when it’s time for the school bells to ring, you’ll be prepared.
By thinking creatively and limiting your spending to only what is necessary, you can spread your back-to-school expenses throughout the year and beat the back-to-school debt blues.
Learn more about BancorpSouth's My Goal Savings account.