Are You Saving For the New School Year?

School’s out for the summer! That means you can forget about school until September, right? Not so fast! If you’re wise, you’ll begin thinking about September now and start saving for the plethora of expenses that hit every new school year. Before you begin making your school year budget, think through all the little expenses that will add up, come September. These are a few things to consider.

School Supplies

With budget cuts in the public schools, parents are increasingly responsible for purchasing things their kids will need in class. School supply lists vary wildly by school district, so you’ll want to check your school’s website for a list, especially if your child is changing schools. And don’t just think about pencils and notebooks. School supply lists often include P.E. uniforms and fees for student body cards.

If you have more than one child in school, school supplies can add up quickly.  Though I homeschool now, a couple of years ago school supplies for two children cost me over $70. If you have more than two children, you may have to budget over $100 just for supplies.

School Activities

Again, due to budget cuts, the cost of school activities is beginning to fall on parents. If your child participates in activities like sports or marching band, expect to pony up the cash for equipment and uniform rental, activity fees, and perhaps even sports camps. These fees can run in the hundreds of dollars, so if you have a new high school freshman, make sure to take these costs into account.

Outside Activities

No matter what your child does outside the school day, there will likely be costs involved. Cub Scouts? American Heritage Girls? AWANA? Community soccer? All cost money, and though the fees aren’t outrageous, when combined with other beginning of the school year fees, the total dollar amount can be a shocker.

Think through your child’s outside activities and make a list of the costs involved.

School Clothes

Though I’m not a fan of dedicated back to school clothes shopping, the fact is, kids grow, and most children will need some new clothes for the school year.

If your child moves from one size group to another, especially if you have a daughter who moves from girl sizes to junior sizes, expect the cost of clothing to increase a lot. You can save money by shopping clearance sales after school starts or shopping at secondhand stores, but don’t forget to budget for school clothes!

Before I was financially savvy, September school expenses always took me by surprise. They shouldn’t have, as these expenses come every year, but the last thing I wanted to think about in June was school expenses. Fortunately I’ve wised up, and now I budget for everything I’ll need to pay in September. Besides December, September is the most expensive month of the year when you have school aged kids.

Have you found that September is an expensive month? Can you think of any back to school expenses I’ve forgotten?

Photo by David Jakes. 


By , on Jun 17, 2012
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Seems like you actually snatched the words away from my mouth. I have a pre-school kid of my own, hence me and my husband have already started adequate finance planning for his upcoming introductory year of schooling. Thanks a lot for sharing this piece of content. It’s going to inspire me a lot.

  2. Mike:

    I totally agree with you with September and December being the most expensive months. I have 2 pre-school kids and every month is expensive because of them. :P

  3. Here in Texas we have what is called “Tax Free Weekend” for one weekend in August before school starts. It allows you to do most of your school shopping without having to pay taxes. I would also recommend putting a little away every month during the year to cover school supplies for the next year.

  4. Lynnae McCoy:

    Great advice, Felicia! There’s no reason you cant stock up throughout the year, and it definitely makes September a less financially shocking experience.

  5. Yes, one child can strain a budget but several school aged children can cause a real stress. Watching for the needed items throughout the year and just packing them away really makes “back to school” a more pleasant event.

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