High temperatures, refreshing pools, sand beneath your toes: there’s something about summer days that can put you in a summer daze. You’re finally relaxed…right up until you realize school is about to start and both you and your budget are entirely unprepared. It’s easy to get caught up in summer fun and have fall family expenses slip your mind. Luckily, we’re here to help remind you what to save for in the upcoming months and tips for managing those expenses.
Do Your Homework
“But I’ve been out of school for years,” you’re probably thinking. “Why do I need to do homework?” Doing your homework means being prepared for back-to-school shopping weeks before setting foot in a store. Get access to your child’s back-to-school supplies list as early as possible, and research how much those items usually sell for at regular prices. You’ll also want to make an additional list of things both you and your child need to be school-ready: sandwich bags, new sneakers, etc.
Once you have your lists, decide which items are necessary expenses before school begins, and which ones you can hold off on buying. Often, the best deals on supplies are found after the back-to-school shopping rush is over!
Look Through What You Already Have
This tip may seem obvious, but with the craziness that comes with getting everyone ready for fall, it can be easy to forget what supplies you’ve previously purchased. We recommend setting aside a few hours to search through your house, rounding up any usable materials you can find. While you’re looking, take inventory of what other items are still in good shape. Knowing your child’s shorts and jacket still fit can save you a bundle at the store.
Sign Up for Store Emails
You may not want an overcrowded inbox, but signing up for promotional store emails can tell you what’s on sale. Most of these stores even include coupons or discount codes in the email!
If emails aren’t your cup of tea, downloading a store’s app or following them on social media are great ways to access coupons and see sale items. By turning on notifications, you can also receive alerts when things are discounted or when new coupons or deals are available.
September: Extracurricular Activities
Take Advantage of “Try Out” Periods
Many extracurricular activities offer a “free trial” period of sorts, where your child can participate and determine whether or not they want to stick with it. Be sure to take advantage of these before investing in equipment, uniforms, registration fees, and other expenses.
Determine the True Cost
Here’s the thing about extracurricular activities—the “sticker price” is never really the actual price. Participating in an activity may very well require you to buy equipment, food, uniforms, and more. If your child is part of a traveling league, you should also factor in the cost of lodging and transportation. These hidden fees can take what once was a reasonably priced activity and turn it into a significant financial investment! Before signing up, ask other parents, coaches, and teachers to get a sense of the actual expenses and how much of your budget you should plan to allocate towards the activity.
Buying previously-owned sports equipment and musical instruments for less than half the cost of purchasing them new can be an excellent way of getting around the high price of new items. This way, the only hit you’ll be taking is when you help your child practice for his boxing match.
October: School Activities
Volunteer Your Time, Not Your Money
More often than not, you’ll be asked to chip in and donate for a fundraiser or special event. If you’re on a tighter budget, volunteer your time or services instead of your money. For example, if you’re a painter, offer to run a face-painting booth for your school’s annual fall festival. Asked to pitch in for a post-game dinner? Offer to host it at your house as a potluck.
Look for Ways to Make Extra Cash
October is when the school year is ramping up. By now, you’ve most likely gotten into a good routine and know what your schedule looks like. Use your free time to put more dollars in your pocket by finding innovative ways to make money on the side. Websites like Swagbucks allow you to earn gift cards to your favorite retailers just by watching videos, filling out surveys, and taking quizzes.
November: Holiday Shopping
One of the surest ways to go over budget when holiday shopping is to wait until the last minute! Not only are you likely to overspend, but you’ll also add unnecessary stress to what is already the most stressful (and wonderful) time of the year.
Install Browser Extensions
Online shopping may be convenient, but it isn’t always the best way to get deals – that’s where browser extensions come in. Using extensions like Honey, Wikibuy, Rakuten (a.k.a. eBates) or PriceBlink saves you time and money by finding you promotional codes, discount codes, cashback, and lower prices automatically as you shop.
Personal Loans for Fall Family Expenses
Tried all of these budgeting tips, but still finding yourself struggling to organize your family’s expenses? Consider applying for a personal loan with Credit Direct! As our loans are free of constraints, you can put the money towards whatever you want – extracurricular activities, holiday shopping, even a last-minute family vacation! Check your loan offers in minutes with no effect to credit score here.