Tips to Help You Budget for a Successful School Year
educating-myself | Read Time: 3 minutes
By Bob Juliano | Published: August 2023
It often seems that summer passes in the blink of an eye and before you know it, it’s back to school season!
And while some parents may breathe a small sigh of relief to see their children head back to the classroom, the start of the new school year also brings expenses for school supplies to set your student up for success.
A recent WSFS study found that 33% in the region are tapping into their savings to help pay for everyday items. Coupled with Deloitte’s Back-to-School Survey, which found that back-to-school spending for K-12 students is expected to decrease 10% from the previous year to $597 per student, the impacts of prolonged inflation are evident.
Here are tips to help you account for increased costs and budget for a successful school year.
Have a Plan Before You Hit the Store
Before heading to the store or your favorite online retailers’ website or app, make a list of all the essential items your student will need for the start of the school year. Once you have the list of all necessary items, such as backpacks and lunchboxes, calculate your budget and plan for how you will stick to it.
While ordering your supplies online may bring added convenience, remember that could also mean increased costs for shipping and any needed returns, so weigh your various purchasing options to hunt for additional savings opportunities and any sales at your local retailers.
If there are items you know you will need to replenish later in the school year like notebooks and pencils that won’t go bad in the meantime, consider looking for bulk discounts to stock up.
If you find your budget is stretched too thin, revisit your list and prioritize the items that are absolutely needed for your student’s first day. If you’re unable to get all the items your student needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are numerous community organizations that run backpack and school supply drives that can help set your student up for the year.
Let Your Student Help
Whether your student is in elementary school, high school or college, getting them involved in your back-to-school shopping – or even your weekly grocery shopping – can help instill valuable money management skills early in life.
A great way to do this is to “gamify” your shopping by giving your child a budget and list of needed items and asking them to fill the cart with everything on the list without going over budget. You can also add a little extra incentive by coming up with a small reward for them if they’re able to stay on budget.
Financial education is often a topic that is not included in already packed curriculums, so using these opportunities to instill valuable life lessons in your children can help set them up for success later.
Don’t Forget to Plan for the Future
While inflation has made it harder to save for many consumers, it is also important to not lose sight of the future.
If you have some room in your monthly budget, setting aside some extra money in a separate savings account can help build a nest egg over time for things like continuing education or even just next year’s back-to-school purchases.
If you find you need a little more help with your finances, consider scheduling an appointment with your local banker. They will be able to provide a financial checkup and help recommend the products and services that can help you reach your goals.
About the Author – Robert Juliano
Bob Juliano is Vice President, Director of Corporate Giving & Financial Literacy at WSFS Bank. He is a financial education expert for the Bank and has taught K-12 financial literacy to thousands of children.
The study was conducted by research company Opinium. The sample includes 1,000 national respondents and 1,001 in the Greater Philadelphia and Delaware region who reside in five southeastern Pennsylvania counties (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia), four southern New Jersey counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester), and all three Delaware counties (Kent, Sussex and New Castle). All respondents were ages 18+. The online survey was conducted from February 28-March 8, 2023, with a combined regional and national margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
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