Did Back To School Shopping Blow a Hole in Your Budget?

So it has been several years (won’t reveal how many exactly) since I was responsible for that arduous task of preparing a child for the new school year.  Making sure they have the right clothes and all the supplies their new teacher requires can be the straw that breaks our budget’s back!

Photo credit: Carol Alberts

This year, I was fortunate to be a part of prepping a 1st grader with all the tools he would need to succeed and the enormity of the task was brought home to me BIG TIME!  Check out the picture of almost all the supplies that were on his teacher’s list.  I say almost because we had yet to acquire the box of ziplock baggies, headphones in a case, and all the right color pocket folders! Whew!

So how do we make sure we can still pay the electric bill or the car payment after all of this school shopping?  That’s where a usable spending plan comes in.  You have school-age children so you know that every year the summer will end with that big expense of school shopping so budget for it all year long and you’re ready.

As banks and credit unions improve their online banking sites, they are incorporating tools that can make it easy for you to save for specific events and purchases.  You can ‘set it and forget it’ like that old infomercial used to say.  It works just like one of those Christmas club accounts that some of us use. Set it up so that maybe $5 or $10 per paycheck is automatically moved over to your extra on-line savings account. Then forget about it until its time to go school shopping. That is when you will move that cushion of money (with it’s added interest) over to checking and boom, you’re covered!  If you set a $5 transfer right now so you are ready for next school year, and you get paid every 2 weeks, you’ll have $130 set aside for school shopping.  You might opt for $10 just to make sure you have enough for those brand name sneakers too!

Since the burden of making sure our students are properly prepared for the school day is a recurring one, we can take steps to make sure that the burden isn’t really a burden but a fun, exciting time for parents and children alike.