For many parents, August marks the start of back-to-school planning. There are so many different costs to consider: school supplies, new clothes, sports physicals and technology. While every school year brings something different, there are always costs associated with your child returning to the classroom.
In-person school expense planning
Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend $848.90, $59 more than last year, on average on back-to-school items, according to the National Retail Federation‡.
With inflation, these costs might be even higher this year and be an extra hit to your budget. To prepare, watch for sales to see if you can get any supplies at a discount or with a coupon. Also, be on the lookout for Tax Free Weekend‡ in your state. Sales tax isn’t included on most purchases during this weekend, which can help you save money.
Costs for virtual learning
Many districts might implement a hybrid schedule as the country still grapples with COVID cases impacting attendance.
Hopefully the school district will provide the necessary technology your student needs, but in the event they don’t, it is important to be prepared for this added cost. Tablets and laptops can run from $330 – $1,300 depending on the brand you select. You might also want to consider different tools such as timers, planners or apps that can help your student stay focused and manage his or her time.
Creating a designated study space for your student at home could also cost some money. Desks and chairs can get pricey so look for ways to creatively reuse furniture you already have, or scout for deals and sales. If these extra expenses are not part of your monthly budget, start small and buy one thing at a time. Make a list of what your student needs and work it in your monthly costs as you can.
In addition to planning for back-to-school costs—regardless of how schools will operate—it’s also important to refresh your finances related to personal costs related to insurance, at-home medical supplies and cleaning materials. Many students will be due for their annual medical physicals. Check in on your medical benefits to see if the preventative care for your student is covered or which clinics will offer back-to-school physicals.
Depending on your student’s after school activities, you might also need to plan for the costs of new gear and supplies. Be sure to talk with teachers and coaches regularly to know if activities are happening this year and what precautions you need to take to keep your child healthy. In addition, as kids grow, you will probably need to invest in a few new clothing items and footwear for your family.
Your grocery bill might also change during this atypical school year. You might need to spend more money on groceries to account for eating most meals and snacks at home. Or you might need to buy additional items for your child to eat lunch at school.
By planning ahead and looking at how your budget will fall over the next few weeks, you can allocate the funds needed to purchase all the supplies for back-to-school. Make your list of what your student needs and start to build your budget now.
Managing back-to-school spending: Infographic
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