School's Back In - Did You Prepare?

For parents, the beginning of a new school year can be both joyous and stressful. This year is especially exciting (and expensive) for our household since we now have a high school senior!!  It seems like every year, our kids need a longer list of special supplies, new clothes, and a funded lunch account. Here are four things you can do to help alleviate the stress of going back to school.

  1. Review your history. Take a look back at the previous year and see what you spent in July-September on school preparation. If you use a tool like Quicken, Mint or Every Dollar, you have an easy way to see your history. Take a look at what actually happened vs. what the budget said so you can prepare appropriately for the next couple of months. 
  2. Look for holes that need to be filled rather than just assuming you need everything. You don't need to spend unnecessary money. Have your kids go through their closet thoroughly. If their jeans are good and their shoes are fine, you don't have to buy new ones just because it's the beginning of the school year. Budget for new ones but get them when you actually need them. Take stock in school supplies. You may just find that you don't need to buy near as much as you thought. 
  3. Budget for it. Write it all down and figure out when it's going to happen so it doesn't sneak up on you. Budgeting a little bit each month over a year's time will not sting nearly as much as paying a few hundred in August.
  4. Watch for sales. Lots of stores have incredible back to school sales. You can get some supplies for pennies! This is a great time to stock up a little. If you know you're going to go through 20 spiral notebooks in the year, get them while they are only 10 cents instead of paying $3 or $4 for them.

Back to school should be a fun time. You should be able to focus on enjoying the process of meeting new teachers and settling back into a school year routine. If you'll do these things, I promise it'll be much less stressful!