Review the school supply list. Most teachers provide a recommended school supplies list before the school year starts. Try to get this list so you can see what items you already have and what you'll need to purchase. This will also give you time to take advantage of back-to-school sales.
Create a budget. Once all the school supplies needs are clear, it's time to make a budget. Not only should items for the school supply list be accounted for, but also items like seasonal clothing and shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes, electronics, and special equipment for after school activities such as sports, music etc. It's a good idea to involve your children in this process to help them develop their money-managing skills.
Take an inventory. Set aside time to determine what you already have. Look over your items from last year to see what needs to be sold, donated, or discarded versus what can be reused.
Shop & sell secondhand. Take outgrown clothes that are no longer needed to a local consignment store or donate them to a non-profit. Along those same lines, shop consignment and thrift stores for items your family can use. To make this a little more fun, organize a group of like-minded parents and have a swap party. If you have students who need to purchase their textbooks, take a look at buying used versus new and any rental options. Reduce/reuse/recycle isn't just good for the environment - it's usually good for your wallet.
Shop after school starts. You don't normally need to have every item (especially clothing) the day school starts. With school starting anywhere from early August through mid September, back-to-school sales are spread over a longer period of time, and Labor Day sales generally include a lot of back-to-school clearance. Take advantage of this time to look for weekly coupons in your mail or visit store websites for printable/downloadable coupons. Be sure to check for student discounts when buying more expensive items (like computers or tablets) and talk to other parents to see where they're finding good deals.
Bonus Tip - Shop Local. It's not always easier or cheaper to shop for school supplies at a big box store. Be sure to check locally-owned retailers and small businesses for any back-to-school sales, discounts, or deals they're offering - and keep in mind these are generally the same businesses supporting school teams and clubs.
The views, information, or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Citizens State Bank and its affiliates, and Citizens State Bank is not responsible for and does not verify the accuracy of any information contained in this article or items hyperlinked within. This is for informational purposes and is no way intended to provide legal advice.