Whether students have returned to full-time, in-person instruction, hybrid educational models, or 100% virtual learning, one thing is certain: back-to-school budgets are looking a lot different in fall of 2020. Most parents saw this coming. In July, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted record back-to-school spending based the results of their survey of parents with children in elementary school through high school. Parents estimated they would spend an average $789.49 per family, topping the previous record of $696.70 they expected to spend in 2019. As we head into a new school year, here are a few tips to help you save:
Make a budget & modify as needed
Budgets are living, breathing documents and they should reflect changes to your life and situation. Your back-to-school budget should be built with some flexibility as circumstances, and needs, may change during the school year. That’s ok. It’s just important to create a budget, understand what expenditures are going to look like this year, and note where those expenses are offset by savings in other areas.
R is for Refurbish — great ways to save on tech.
Another option: some parents may discover they still have old tablets or laptops tucked away in a drawer or closet that can be refurbished by a professional. This will cost far less than buying new equipment, and work just as well for this purpose.
For reviews on equipment for home classrooms, check out Everything you need for remote learning during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Get creative when it comes to workspaces.
For parents discovering the pitfalls of transforming kitchen and dining room tables into temporary classrooms, investing in desks and chairs for children may be in order. To keep costs down, follow local vintage shops and secondhand stores on social media. This is a great way to find desks, chairs, and lamps in good condition at a fraction of the cost of what major retailers charge for similar new items.
Another option: look around your home, and get creative. Can you repurpose a small table into a desk? Is there a chair in the corner that will be good as new with a new cover? Have you forgotten about items in the attic or basement that can be cleaned and used? Ask family and friends if they would be willing to lend a few pieces until in-person instruction resumes. To avoid losing time and energy replacing pieces that aren’t a good fit, check out School at home: How to keep attending virtual classes from being a real pain in the neck.
Paying full-price for clothes is out. Socially-distanced clothing swaps are in.
One of the fun aspects of going back to school is picking out a trendy, new wardrobe. If the expense of creating a home classroom has put a dent in your clothing budget, consider organizing a socially-distanced clothing swap with family, friends, and neighbors in your bubble. It will give children a chance to exchange gently used items, safely, and it can add to their wardrobes without costing anything.
Comparison shopping? There’s an app for that!
For supplies that will need to be continuously replenished throughout the school year, such as pens, pencils, crayons, paper, binders, and art supplies, comparison shopping is key. Take advantage of a wide variety of apps dedicated to comparison shopping. Many are designed to be versatile so shoppers can compare prices online or in person, and some offer cash-back incentives. To get started, check out 11 Best Shopping Apps to Score Epic Savings and Best Shopping Apps to Compare Prices.
Organization & planning save time and money.
With more members of the family working and studying remotely, some families could notice an increase in their grocery bills. Planning meals ahead can keep things in check because you’ll be able to buy in bulk, and you’ll be less likely to order takeout on a whim.
Staying organized, in the kitchen, and in your workspace, is also good for the bottom line. There will be less waste and you won’t end up buying duplicates of items you already have simply because you couldn’t find them.
Little things really do mean a lot.
With all these savings on big ticket items and supplies, you just might be able to add some fun into the budget, too. Consider investing in a few smaller items that kids will really appreciate — jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, and hula hoops for “recess” in the back yard, or little things they’ve had their eye on, like a sparkly pencil case or a binder with a puppy on the cover. Investing in these little things will yield big smiles at the end of a long school day, and that’s priceless.
Fidelity Bank has built a strong history as trusted advisors to clients served, and is proud to be an active member of the community. With 20 branches located throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, Fidelity Bank offers full-service Trust & Investment Departments, a mortgage center, and an array of personal and business banking products and services. The Bank provides 24 hour, 7 day a week service to clients through a variety of digital banking tools, branch offices, online at www.bankatfidelity.com, and through the Customer Care Center at 1-800-388-4380.
Daniel J. Santaniello, President, and CEO, of Fidelity Bank, publishes Financially Fit with Fidelity, your guide to financial well-being, every Thursday. If you’re interested in a financial topic we haven’t yet covered or want to subscribe to our emails, please feel free to drop us a line at blog at fddbank dot com. We would love to hear from you.