7 Tips to Keep Your Back to School Budget on Track

Can anyone guess what time it is? Yes, you guessed it right! It’s back-to-school season. The nine weeks of summer break are coming to an end soon and it is time to gear our kids and prepare our back to school budget. 

Back to school for me as a kid was a big deal. I looked forward to meeting my new teacher, getting to know my classmates. Another one of my favorite aspects of back-to-school was getting a new book bag with a shiny lunch box; but now as an adult with my own kids I am on the opposite side, and back school is a lot more stressful and expensive.

Back to School Is Expensive

The average parents spending per student is expected at least $270, compared with roughly $250 in 2020, KPMG found when it surveyed more than 1,000 adult consumers across the United States in May.

Parents of children in preschool are planning to spend as much as 32% more this year, the survey said, while parents of college-aged students will spend about 13% more. The sharp increases in these two groups are partially due to more people entering both preschool and college this fall, after putting those plans on hold a year ago.

In 2020, we witness a shift in the way schools are run, from in-person learning to virtual, and many parents also changed how they also purchase school supplies and what their kids actually needed for the school year. This school year, things may look a lot different. 

These seven tips on creating a back-to-school plan that will keep you on track

Create A List of School Supplies Need

Before you even spend the first dollar,  go through the list of requested school supplies provided by your child’s teacher or school district. Do an inventory of what supplies you already have at home, especially the fact that last school year was mainly online. 

Take stock of what clothes and shoes your kids have that still fit before going out to buy a new wardrobe.

Make a Back-to-School Budget

Now that your list is created and you have a better understanding of the things you will need, create a budget to make it all happen. It’s important to create a spending limit you’re comfortable with and note a back-to-school budget should reflect each child’s individual needs and covers the basics.

Going school shopping without a budget will only set you up for overspending and impulse buying. Also factor in a line item for other school-related needs that will recur every month such as before and aftercare and those extracurricular activities 


Do Your Shopping Overtime

I have been guilty in the past of buying all my kids’ school supplies, clothes, and gadgets the first week of school. My kids would grow out the clothes before the end of the first term.

So consider letting your child start the year with just enough clothing to get a good start and finish out their wardrobe as key items go on clearance a month later. Buy a little this month, buy a little next. Don’t blow the budget in August. 

Shop on Tax-Free Weekend

Shopping during tax-free weekends is one best way to help lower the cost of back-to-school supplies. If your state has a tax-free weekend, make sure you are taking advantage of those savings!  About 15 states offer this deal, so do your research to see if your state (or a nearby state) falls into the category. Based on the state you live in. You can usually buy clothing, school supplies, shoes, and even some tech items tax-free.

Use Coupons While Back-to-School Shopping

According to The Krazy Coupon Lady, the best time to watch for manufacturer and store coupons from office supply brands is in July and August. Redeem the manufacturer coupons on sale items for the biggest savings. These are coupons she recommends parents look for: 

  • Magazine coupons like the ones from Parenting are a fantastic source of back-to-school coupons.
  • Sunday newspaper coupons from sources like Retail Me Not, SmartSource, and Procter & Gamble will have a few coupons for school supplies each week.
  • In-store coupons are typically found on the shelves or inside products. Walgreens usually has lots of school supply coupons in the weekly ad in the front of the store.

Use Apps To Compare Prices.

Saving and budgeting for school supplies is always a good thing, but how can you save when it’s time to actually buy? Use apps to save, including apps offered by stores that sell school supplies and other back-to-school items, like clothing and shoes. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have apps with great savings when you’re back-to-school shopping. 

Use these 9 Apps to Help With Back-to-School Shopping If you are looking for a great deal on supplies, you can use these apps to find the price across different stores.

Be a Smart Shopper

Never pay full price for school supplies, look out for sales promotion between now and the start of school. Be a smart shopper by buying generic, and even shop at the Dollar Store/Tree. You can buy in bulk, and also compare prices before settling on anything.


The tips above are helpful in creating the ultimate plan that will help you stick to your budget this back-to-school season. Remember to keep it simple and stick to your budget. The point of a budget is to help you not overspend and have more control of your money.

No doubt back-to-school shopping can be difficult and expensive, but there are ways to save when you have a plan and a budget. Be mindful of what you buy before school starts, and make sure to open a school supplies sinking fund for the rest of the year. This will make back-to-school shopping a lot less stressful.

What other tips do you have when it comes to keeping a back-to-school budget?