Back-to-School Spending, Planning and Saving Strategies

If you Have to Spend Money, Spend it Wisely

As summer winds to a close, the realities of a new school year begin to set in. New shoes, clothes, school supplies, activity fees…the list goes on. For many, a new school year means spending. Sometimes, spending a lot.

The National Retail Federation’s Annual Back-to-class 2023 survey estimates the expected back-to-school spending per household (grades K-12) will be $890, up almost 37% from five years ago. 83% of respondents reported they were concerned about inflation and high prices and 60% were concerned about having the money to live right and pay bills. With worries about the economy, many families are exploring ways to save money on back-to-school purchases.

Simple Saving Strategies for Back-to-School Expenses

Clothing – review what your children really need and then determine if you can stagger purchases. For instance, do they need a new sweatshirt when it’s still August? Do they need more than one pair of new shoes to wear on the first day?

School Supplies – take inventory of what you already have. There’s a good chance your child came home on the last day of school with items that can be used again such as pencil boxes, scissors, and pencil sharpeners. Look at their backpack from last year, if it’s in good shape and the zippers work, use it again.

Technology – Instead of a laptop, would a tablet with a keyboard suit their needs? Consider buying refurbished, many retailers provide a warranty with refurbished equipment.

In general – Look for:

  • Student discounts
  • Price/expense tracking apps
  • Price matching offers
  • Coupon codes
  • “Off-brand” or store brand items
  • Sales

Buying in bulk can save you in the long run–as long as it’s supplies you will use up–and most brick-and-mortar stores have fantastic clearance sales after the school year starts (stock up for second semester or next year).

Make it an Educational Lesson

Some research suggests that money habits start to develop by the age of seven. With an average score of 63.8% for people aged 15-18 on a national financial literacy test, back-to-school time may also be a great time for financial education.  

No matter their age, involve your child in getting ready for how much school supplies will cost. Create a list, organize it by category (supplies, clothing, technology, etc.) and set a predetermined budget for each. Then, plan a time to go shopping together.

Plan Ahead

Stock up

Many stores clear out their school supplies at a substantial discount after the school year begins. Basic items like spiral-bound notebooks, packs of pencils and erasers don’t change from year to year; why not buy these at a discount and store them away for next year?

Create a savings goal

Keep track of everything you spent for back-to-school and use that as your guide for next year’s budgeting. If you spent $800, that’s $80 a month for 10 months. If you start saving in September and set aside $80 each month until July, you’ll be ready for back-to-school spending next year.

Consider opening a back-to-school savings account

Taking the savings goal a step further, maybe it’s time to open a savings account for special expenses or an account for your child. With online account opening, it’s easier than ever to create a dedicated account for your child’s education expenses. Keeping these funds separate is a great way to ensure you’ll save the money you need, and for certain account types, you can earn interest on your deposits.

Use savings and spending tools

ANB Go (American National Bank’s online banking platform) offers a free tool called Money Monitor where you can create budgets and savings goals. It’s automatically linked to your accounts so you can easily budget for next year and hit your savings goal. Plus, the interactive dashboard is a useful visual for you (and your child) to monitor your progress throughout the year.

Financial Education for the Family

Back-to-school time is an opportunity for a fresh start for the entire family. Use this time to support education while taking steps toward learning financial literacy. While we can’t eliminate back-to-school expenses, it’s worth it to think about strategies to save, budget and get the kids involved in the process.

Open an Account Online or in a Branch

American National Bank is proud to be a banking partner to families across Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. We help make it fast and convenient to manage your finances with flexible options that help you do more with your money. Open an account online today.

Not sure what kind of account you need? We’re here to help you get started:

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Articles contained in our news section are not intended to provide recommendations or specific advice. Consult with a professional when making financial decisions. Once published, articles are not updated; information may be outdated.