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5 ways to stay on a budget during back-to-school shopping

Photo credit: familyfeature

Photo credit: familyfeatures.com

Kids are back to school and have tons of necessities for the new school year — books, electronics, pencils, notebooks, uniforms, and more. According to the National Retail Federation, parents with children in kindergarten through 12th grade will collectively spend $24.9 billion this year on school supplies, with the average family spending $630.36. Although the collective figure is down 6 percent from last year and the latter number is down about $40, the money spent on school items can be quite pricey.

But just because your children’s studies require some of your funds doesn’t mean your pockets have to suffer. With proper planning, parents can provide their little scholars with everything needed on a reasonable budget.

Here are five tips to keep your child stocked with the right necessities throughout the year without breaking your bank.

Keep the backpack light.

Students tend to overfill their backpacks with all kinds of items like heavy books, binders, and laptops. The extra weight will eventually tear the backpack and even break the zippers. Keeping a light load will not only help the backpack remain in good shape throughout the year, but if it’s in good condition next year, it can be reused or even passed down to another child.

Be cautious of sharing.

Kids oftentimes enjoy sharing their belongings with their friends, but not everyone will treat a borrowed item with the proper care. Establish with your child which items are allowed to be shared and which aren’t. Rules should also be set for the child who borrows the item, such as when the item will need to be returned, what the item can be used for, and with how much care it should be handled.

Discuss how to handle electronics safely.

The youth can sometimes be rough with certain items, but when tech devices are misused, it can cost a pretty penny to be fixed or replaced. Talk with your children about how to preserve electronics, such as how to use protective cases, refraining from eating or drinking near the items, and other safety protocols.

Make breakfast at home.

Many students head straight to the lunchroom in the morning to eat breakfast before the school day begins. Sometimes prices for a morning meal can be almost as expensive as school lunch. Parents can cut this cost out by making breakfast before children leave home. Here are three tips to serving the perfect breakfast:

  • Stack yogurt, granola, and fruit together in a cup to make a yogurt parfait.
  • Serve your kids last night’s pizza — they’re sure to love it.
  • Build a breakfast burrito bar: prepare the toppings the night before, scramble eggs and warm the tortillas.

Plan ahead for lunch.

Grabbing a pre-packaged meal from the grocery store to give to your child from lunchtime can often be almost as expensive as the meals schools provide. Brown paper bag lunches are sure to save parents money, especially when following a strict shopping list. Plan a week’s worth of lunch options ahead of time so that you can create a set list to follow once you head to the grocery store.