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5 Tips for Back to School on a Budget


Is summer coming to a close already? It seems like yesterday the snow melted for the last time, the trees blossomed, the Greeley Stampede started, and the thunderstorms came.

But now we’re in August, the Olympics are in full swing, we’ve seen several movie blockbusters, and the cicada bugs have settled in town singing their songs in the trees.

When talking to family and friends, Fall is a common favorite season of the year. But that also means summer vacation is over and school is starting once again. When I was a kid, it was slightly depressing to exchange the freedom of summer to be held captive in a classroom in the fall.

This can also be a slightly depressing time for parents as well. This school year, how many children do you have who are going back to school? How many school supply shopping lists did you receive from teachers? Are some of your kids going to need some bigger items such as instruments, uniforms, laptops?

How soon did you feel, “How am I going to pay for all of this?”

With many school districts cutting budgets for schools, teachers are having to put parents under pressure to ask for more help in getting school supplies for the classroom such as tissues, hand sanitizer, dry erase markers, etc.

Then when some of your children get into high school, they are joining either a sport or an art program where they need to buy instruments, sports equipment, uniforms, etc. Or they may be doing all of the above…

Instead of starting to charge your 8-year old rent, in order to pay for all of their school supplies, Dave Ramsey has some good advice on how to stay on a budget and not break the bank when buying school supplies.

We’ve pulled out 5 essential Back to School tips to think about when on a budget before setting off to the store with the kids.


1)  Check off the Checklist Before Heading to the Store.

Don’t waste money on buying things you already have. Before heading to the store, take an inventory of what you already have, especially the big stuff (lunchboxes, backpacks, pencil pouches.) Make it fun as well, have your kids do a scavenger hunt in their room to find all the school supplies left over from last school year.

Have You Ever Considered the Dollar Store?

Waiting in long lines to get school supplies? Tired of squeezing your way through aisles and bins among dozens and dozens of people at big-box stores? Shop at a dollar store instead. They essentially have the same school supplies, it is easy to get in and out, and it is super affordable. Try to do the majority of your school shopping here.

Find Deals on Everything Else.

The dollar store does have its limitations. I wish I could by a graphic calculator for a dollar. For all other stuff and the bigger items, such as laptops, calculators, instruments, etc. wait on the sales.

When needing to go to big-box stores for these items, get in and out. The longer you stay in the store, the more likely you will buy more items.

Another option to save on money is to seek out refurbished items.
Best Buy has some options for refurbished laptops. For graphic calculators, try visiting For instruments, try a rental program with Music Depot in Greeley.

4)  Buy What They Need, Not What They Want.

It’s fun to have the latest movie branded item or to buy the pack of 24 color gel pens. But stick to what they need especially on a tight budget. If your child really wants a
Frozen binder, encourage them to splurge on the fancy school supplies with their own cash if they want. This is a great life lesson for them to learn about budgets!

5)  Save Your Budget by Getting “Presents” Later in the School Year.

If the budget is tight, no problem. Get the essential stuff they will need for the first month and then budget to get the rest of the items the next month. Classroom lists are usually a suggestion, not a requirement. Buy some of the wish list items, such as tissues, dry erase markers, etc. for a teacher later on in the year. They will greatly appreciate the present a few months in.


If you have any other surefire tips for Back to School shopping, we would love to hear them. Share your tips in the comments below!

Read the full Dave Ramsey article here.

Posted 12:00 PM

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