Valley Updates

Go Back to School Without Breaking the Bank

No matter who you are everyone feels the effects of the back to school buzz. Whether you are a parent counting down the days till I’m bored turns to the honk of the school bus horn outside your door or you are a commuter hoping your drive to work won’t be too painful, we can all agree it is a busy time of year. School books, pens, crayons, computers or office supplies there are sales everywhere designed to help make the transition from fun in the sun to school bells ringing smooth. According to the National Retail Federation, parents are expected to spend an average of $696.70-$976.78 on back to school shopping in 2019. These figures depend on whether parents have school aged children or college students.  Here are some ideas for how you can be prepared for the sales and make the most out of your back to school spending.

Clothes: The latest and greatest shoes, sneakers and clothes can break the bank, pun intended. Reasoning with a teenager about why a school shopping budget is necessary and that they cannot blow it all on one item, no matter what celebrity is wearing it, can be a daunting task. Make your children part of the process by asking them to make a realistic list of what clothes they would like to have to start their school year wardrobe. Tell them what you will be getting them, of course based on their needs and how much you plan to spend. Give them a dollar amount they can use to get what they want within the dress code. Try not to make any judgements on the style – it may be a losing battle.

Supplies: Most schools provide an annual supply list in efforts to help parents prepare their children for the start of the year. These lists are usually different for each grade so if you have more than one child in the house it is important to have a list for each student. Your kindergartener may not need a scientific calculator, but your middle schooler will. You get the idea. Take a look around the house before you go to the store to purchase items from the list. You would be surprised how much it can save you money to know exactly what you need before you shop.

Sports and Activities: Football, soccer, cross country track, field hockey, lacrosse, ballet, karate and the list can go on and on. Once school is back in session, families become busier than ever trying to keep up with homework, sports and activities. The cost to participate in sports and extracurricular activities continues to climb each year especially since many schools require a fee to join. To help save cost and keep your children engaged get a pulse of what your child wants to be involved with. Let them know ahead of time the training involved and the responsibility of being part of a group or team. All in efforts to make sure once they join, they don’t come back and tell you they are no longer interested. If you pick what you think they will like, you run the risk of spending hundreds of dollars on equipment they may never use if they quit or become a one-year wonder. 

Ultimately, make a list of what your child needs and wants so when you get to the store you are equipped with a plan. Clip coupons from the paper, visit the store online to see if they have any web deals or special codes. If you can, look at the prices for items you will need a few weeks ahead, then when the store you have been looking at puts out their promotions, you will know if the sale is all they are cracked up to be. You would be surprised how many stores will raise prices and then put a sale sticker on those same items making it so you really save nothing. Be savvy, be prepared and compare prices to keep more money in your pocket.

We can help you to plan or save for everything you need to get your children off to school without a hitch. We provide the Eagle Line of Credit a self-managed loan where you can borrow up to $15,000 to help with tuition, computers or other household needs. For college students and college graduates we provide Student Loans to help you fund your education or consolidate student loans. No matter how you plan to go forward with your back to school needs, know Pioneer Valley Credit Union is here to help make this academic year a success while saving you money.