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Tips For Cutting Back To School Costs

Aug 18, 2007
It's time to gather up the kids and hit the shopping scene once again- back-to-school is here. With back-to-school, kids see time to hang out with friends again and piles of homework to do instead of watching TV or going to the pool. Parents, on the other hand, see something very different: their money flying out of their pockets. Parents will spend nearly $500 sending each of their children back to school this Fall.

In August of last year, families spent $7.1 billion dollars on back-to-school clothing alone. Only during the holiday shopping season was more spent on clothing. However, clothing is just the beginning. Bookstores earned $2.1 billion in revenue in August 2006 as well. It was estimated last year that each family with school- age children would spend approximately $483. $219 went for clothing, $90 for shoes, $73 for supplies and $101 on electronics and computer equipment.

School systems throughout the United States also footed the bill in 2005 with an average of $8,701 spent on each student enrolled in public elementary schools that year. New York spent the most with $14,119 and Utah the least with $5,257, but it still adds up to a lot when calculated that 75.8 million people over the age of three were enrolled in school that year.

With the cost of back-to-school seeming a bit daunting, it may be helpful to try a few tips to keep costs down. Gathering a budget for back-to-school costs can soften the blow. Simply look up figures for the average cost per child, then divide by twelve (months in a year) and multiple by the number of children. Once you have a figure, plan on saving that much each month during the year. This way, once back-to-school shopping comes around, there will be no shock to the wallet.

If taking children along for the shopping trip, make sure the kids are aware of the allotted amount to be spent. In most cases, kids will whine for the latest fashion or the coolest looking school supplies. Although it may be alright to go for a cool, new thing or two, make sure the child knows you are staying within a budget.

Before shopping, be sure to take out of the budget "must haves" that cannot be found at the store. These include such things as enrollment fees and book costs or band instruments and athletic fees. Also, think about food costs and whether or not it would be more economical for your children to buy or bring lunch. Transportation costs may also be a factor, so check out local busing or car-pooling options.

Examine last year's markers and gluesticks before purchasing brand-new sets. Also, make sure to buy only what is required on the school supply list. Buying extra items can add up; especially, with more than one child.

When shopping for clothes, don't go for brand-new items unless necessary. Look for shops offering gently-used items; especially, for children who will be growing rapidly in the coming year. When buying the clothing, try to stick with cash, so as not to overspend on the allotted amount. It can be tempting with kids trying to convince you otherwise, but by having only the set amount in cash there will be no choice but to stick to the budget.

One of the best ways to save money on back-to-school clothing is to shop off-season to save up to seventy-five percent.

If multiple children in a family are going back to school, consider buying school supplies in bulk. Warehouse clubs offer larger amounts of supplies at much lower prices. As much as fifteen percent can be saved by bulk buying; cutting a few back-to-school dollars.
About the Author
Charlotte Buelow is a contributing business writer for Goliath. Goliath is one of the Internet's largest collections of business research, news and information. Learn more about
Goliath.
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