Well, here we are again. One week from today, my daughter will be heading back to college for her junior year. Where does the time go? But I digress.
This time of year can be a major budget breaker if we are not careful. Last year, I spent a lot of money getting her everything she needed for her dorm thinking this was a one time thing. But every year they change dorms so of course there is always that “need” for new stuff. And if your children are in K-12, don’t think you are off the hook. Every year the schools provide a new supply list based on their grade.
The one big lesson that I have learned, however, is that just because the school or even your student says they “need” it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Below are a few tips for saving money when the “Back to School” season starts:
- Take an inventory – Whether it is clothes, school supplies or dorm items, make sure you take an inventory of what you already have. Just because it is a new school year doesn’t mean everything has to be new. Did you know that it is possible to start the new school year without one single new outfit? Or one new notebook? I’m not saying don’t buy anything – I’m just saying be realistic about what they need and what they want. Don’t break the budget buying items that they already have and are in perfectly good shape.
- Stick to the budget – I love a good sale! Who doesn’t? And the sales at this time of year can be amazing. But it is only good if you need the item that is on sale and if you have the money budgeted to buy the item. Be careful not to get swept up in all the sweet deals.
- DIY – This is mostly for the college readers, but can apply to anyone. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars decorating your dorm room, use stuff that you already have from home to make it feel more comfortable. Also, make stuff to decorate with. Get a cool frame from a yard sale, thrift store or even the dollar store and put your favorite picture in it. Decorating doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and you will feel at home if you have touches of it with you.
It is so easy to get swept up in the chaos that is back to school shopping. And it is easy to spend way to much if you don’t go in with a plan. Using the steps above, you will be well on your way to making this the best year ever without breaking the bank.
I hope everyone has an awesome year – whether you are starting school for the first time, moving on to the next grade or heading to or back to college. These years are precious and need to be treasured, not for what you bought but for the experiences you will have. Sending you prayers, love and encouragement! Go kick some butt! ~Debbi