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How to handle back-to-school costs

August 08, 2019

As fall nears, it's time to start thinking about purchasing school supplies for the kids. Unfortunately, the list of must-haves can be long and expensive, catching your finances off guard. If education costs are more than you expected, read more for tips on how to handle back-to-school costs:

  • Think twice about buying new. Look around the house for pencils, pens, paper and more. You could have leftovers from last year's school shopping. This goes for wardrobes, too. Look in the closet to see what your children already have, and then base shopping on what they actually need. This will keep you from going on unnecessary shopping sprees.
  • Have a list of specific items so you're not tempted to buy on impulse.
  • Print coupons that you can find online, often on your mall's website. Also, look for store-specific discounts.
  • Go alone to buy supplies. Having the kids tag along could lead to begging and extra purchases.
  • Be patient. You may snag better deals on clothing and supplies if you wait a couple weeks after school has started and prices have dropped. Some items you need will go on clearance, so you can get them at a fraction of the cost.
  • Spend more on items that will last longer, such as backpacks or laptops. Don't throw money away on fancy pens or things that won't be as useful in the long term.
  • Work with other parents to pool your purchasing power. If buying from the same list, you could get things in larger quantities and possibly save more.
  • See if your state offers a tax-free holiday. This can run for an entire weekend the month before school begins and allows you to buy back-to-school supplies without paying sales tax. Visit your state's department of revenue website to see if it does a tax-free holiday — if not, a neighboring state may participate.

Check out the resources below for more back-to-school savings tips:
- Ace Back-to-School Shopping With 6 Smart Moves
- What to Do When Back to School Bites You in the Budget
- 5 ways to cut back-to-school costs