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With a daughter in high school, back to school shopping means more than just buying some school supplies and some new jeans. Back to school involves paying for things like textbooks and school gear, sports gear, ID cards, club dues, locker supplies and dozens of other needs.
When you are tight on cash like our family, budgeting for high school is all about shopping wisely and making choices of the things we can or can’t afford to do. Here’s some of the ways we make it work for our family.
Use what we already have
Making do with what you already have is the most basic way to save money. Before hitting the back to school sales, my daughter and I go through our stash of last year’s clothes and school supplies to determine what may work for the upcoming year. Backpacks, lunch boxes, school binders, locker shelves, sports gear, and calculators are just a few examples of items that can be used for several years or more.
Watch sales like a hawk
For school supplies that must be bought, we search through the ads for the best deals in our part of town. Taking advantage of two-fers and one cent door buster deals is a simple way to stock up on a year’s worth of school supplies for less than $10.
Be creative with clothes shopping
My daughter’s love of indie fashions means that she’s comfortable wearing vintage duds found at rummage sales, thrift stores, and in Grandma’s closet. Items that must be bought new (including shoes and undergarments) are found at discount retailers, outlet malls, and sample shops. Trading with friends and sewing your own is another way to keep down the cost of back to school fashions.
Work a summer job
The start of school year sees our family’s largest outlay of cash for school supplies, textbooks, student activity fees, and sports equipment. To ease the strain on the family finances, both my daughter and I work at our local county fair for a couple of weeks in August for back to school cash. My income is enough to cover all the essentials; her’s pays for the extras.
Make sensible choices
High schools are filled with all sorts of opportunities for sports, clubs, and outside activities which can easily run into the thousands of dollars. To keep our budget on track, our strategy is to set an annual limit of $600 for extracurricular activities and leave it up to our teens to choose the sports and clubs that fit within that budget. If the activities go over budget, our kids either pay the difference or figure out a way to slash costs.
More by this contributor:
How to buy school supplies on the cheap
Back to school supplies worth stockpiling
Where to find discounted sports gear for your kids