5 of the Best Budget Tips for Back-to-School

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated July 30, 2019

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Money Saving Tips
July 30, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Whether your child attends public or private school, back-to-school season can get expensive. School supplies like pencils, paper, and notebooks are must-haves. Then, once you’ve filled their backpacks, it’s time to fill their closets — to replace all the outgrown, worn-out clothes from the year before, not to mention new running shoes and boots for fall. It all adds up quickly.

So what’s a parent to do? Make back-to-school more affordable by following these budget tips.

Before you shop for new, make sure your students use any supplies that they have leftover from last year. Some kids come home at the end of the school year with entire unopened packs of crayons, or extra glue sticks that were never used. Older students can reuse sturdy folders and pens. You may find that you don’t have to buy new materials this semester.

At least 16 states have tax holidays before the start of the school year to help parents save money on items like:

  • Clothing
  • Footwear
  • Computers and software
  • Graphing calculators
  • Books
  • Musical instruments
  • Backpacks

Tax holidays are like an instant discount — up to 7.25% in some states. Note that some states have limits on how much you can save during their back-to-school tax holidays. Also, remember that the tax savings only apply to purchases for students. Here are a few other ways to save on your back to school shopping list.

Retail stores know that they have to compete against each other during the back-to-school season. Many of them use coupons to lure in more consumers.

Check out mailers, your local newspaper, and online coupon sites to compare savings at different stores.

On average, school lunch costs about $2.50. Some school districts charge shockingly high prices, though. One school in California charges students nearly $7 per meal!

No matter how much your school charges, you can save money by packing a lunch. Keep your kids interested by learning some new, easy recipes.

You’ll do more than save money. You’ll probably give your children more nutritious meals than schools serve.

Bonus tip: leftovers make great school lunches!

The new school year doesn’t have to strangle your wallet. Back to school tips so you can spend as little money as possible without depriving your kids of the things they need to succeed.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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