The end of summer marks the beginning of the new school year in most parts of the world. Along with the new school year, your children will be looking forward to a whole new wardrobe, a gaggle of fresh school supplies along with other school related items. Back to school items make up a large part of every parents annual budget and if you have several children, these cost only escalate. There are plenty of ways to control your back to school cost such as by adopting a frugal back to school budget plan.


The best way to start any type of budget is by making a complete list of the items you expect to purchase. When it comes to back to school shopping, there are a variety of needs depending on the age and school your child goes to, but overall there are five basic categories you should look at:


  • Back to School Clothing
  • Back to School Supplies
  • Back to School Shoes
  • Back to School Electronics
  • Back to School Food


Let’s go over each category individually to help you learn ways to manage your frugal living budget while still sending the kids to school fully prepared and in style. Kids can be sensitive about what they wear and how their accessories compare with other children in their group, so it’s important to keep the social aspect of your child’s style in mind while shopping for budget school supplies.


Back to School Clothing


Children’s clothing makes up a large part of most parents’ back to school budget; learning to shop for your childs new clothes on a budget is a great way to save money and set extra funds aside for other things such as supplies or after school extracurricular activities. Kids are pretty rough on their clothes regardless of their age, this means you will have to spend a pretty penny every year, but before you head out to the store, follow a few steps to unneeded purchases.


Look over the list of classes your child will take this year as well as the dress code required for each class. Grade school age children don’t often need more than one outfit daily, but older children may need exercise clothing, sports clothing or other class specific outfits.  If your child’s school follows a uniform system, then a lot of your work is already done for you.


 After determining what type of clothing your child needs for the majority of the school year, take a few minutes and go though their closets and drawers. Remove any clothes that no longer fit, are no longer in a condition to be worn or that need minor repair. Check to see what items still fit and can be used for the upcoming school year. For example, if your child has ten pairs of jeans that still fit well, there is no need to purchase additional jeans. A good wash along with a bit of mending will make then look just like new.  The same goes for shirts, dresses, skirts and other clothing items.


If your child is sensitive about being seen in the same fashions from the previous year, consider having them dyed to another color. Most local tailors and dry cleaning shops offer these services at a very low cost. On top of changing the color, you can add embellishments, lace or attractive vintage buttons to give the garments a more unique and stylish appearance. Not only will you save a lot of money on your back to school clothing shopping, but you will also cut down on environmental waste. Girls can make their fashions very unique with a bit of fabric paint and iron on impressions.


For clothing that needs to be replaced, instead of running out to the mall, check out your local consignment shops. Not only can you find great name brand clothing, but you can also nab higher end brands at only a fraction of the cost. If your child has gently used clothing they can no longer wear, you can trade them into the same consignment shops to get credit on your future clothing purchases. Trading in old clothes helps others save money along with the environment and keeps extra cash in your pocket for other back to school items.


The clothing sold at the consignment shops only comes in one size and are usually limited in quantities which means you will have to do some of your shopping at regular stores. The malls are great places to hang out and get ideas, but when it comes to prices, it is the worst place to find a bargain. After finding styles you like at the mall, look for more affordable choices in similar styles, or take your shopping online. You can save time and money by staying home and a lot of retailers offer your lower prices for shopping directly from their warehouse.                                                                                 


Regular School Supplies


Like most parents, you probably miss the days when you could send your kids to school with just a few items like pencils, paper, and crayons. These staple items are still very much needed, but there is a larger list to go along with them.


Most stores offer great back to school sales on these items making it easy to stay on budget during the back to school season. Another great way to make sure you have enough of these to last the year is to stock up during the back to school sales. Club and wholesale stores are another great way to increase to your back to school supply savings. You can purchases bulk amounts of pencils, lined paper, composition notebooks, white out, printer paper, markers and anything else you can think of that your child may need for their classes. The great thing about whole sale clubs is that they offer their savings all year round, so if you happen to forget something two months into the school year, you can easily run to your local club store to pick it up at regular sale prices.      

These are just a few tips to help you save money this back to school season, please take a look at my other back to school guides to find more ways to be a frugal back to school parent.