For kids and adults back to school can bring on feelings of dread and worry. For our children they don’t want the summer months to end, while adults are looking at the extra expenses back to school bring.
Back to school, back in debt? Regardless of your child’s age, there are costs associated with back to school. It is important to have an idea of what the total expense will be and where the money to pay for these items will be coming from. How can we plan to set ourselves up for a successful start? We start with the basics, with a budget.
Knowing your direct cost will help, and this will often depend on your child’s age. Do you have school fees or tuition to pay and what are the payment options? Sometimes there are payment plans to stretch the payment out over a course of several months but there may be additional costs with that. Administration fees, or credit card fees/ interest if you put any payments through your credit card.
What are the supplies needed? Get your school supply list early and shop the sales! Many stores will have back to school sales on but remember if you don’t have the money upfront to pay for these items, stocking up on items you don’t need now may hurt your wallet in the long run. What new clothing items or shoes do you need to look at? If the cost of these items is adding up look at other options including hand me down items, second hand stores or discount retailers. Keep in mind that lower cost items may not have the same quality and can wear down faster so think about your childs activity level, typical wear and tear on clothes and past growth spurts ( are they due for one any day now?) before loading up on new clothes.
If you have an older child, they may want to do their own back to school shopping, it’s a great chance to teach them about budgets and wants vs needs. Give clear instructions on the items they are expected to purchase and set them up for success. They may have their own money from chores, savings or an after school job that they want to use to purchase those above and beyond items.
You’ve heard of a rainy day fund, or emergency account- consider setting up a school savings. Set money aside throughout the year that can be used to the school costs that will pop up throughout the year. Having money set aside may help throughout the year when you need to upsize their inside running shoes or replace the winter jacket they lost on the playground.
Know where the money is coming from to pay for these items. If you are using a credit card to pay for supplies, sports teams, birthday parties, class trips etc the cost may add up to more than you expect. The interest rates will build up if you can’t pay the items off in full, so don’t rely on paying with your credit. Older kids may have their own income, or your university aged child may have grants and loans to help pay for their school costs. Knowing how much you have to spend before you go to the store, will help you avoid adding extra items to your cart that you may not be able to afford.
We suspect that school costs may grow this year, with schools being excited to offer field trips again, and kids wanting to socialize and have birthday parties. Don’t let the added expenses put you into debt, there are lots of options available if the added expenses are too much for your household. Many schools have financial assistance programs which may include fees, supplies or meal programs. Stores will have sales and often they include a gift with purchase ie spend a set amount on groceries, and receive a backpack of school supplies. Knowing what resources are available may take some time and effort on your end but it could save you the stress of financial worry later on.
What can Marble do to help with your debt troubles?
If you find the added expense of back to school overwhelming your financial situation. There is hope! CreditMeds is a new solution from Marble that can help you take control of your debt and start getting your life back on track. CreditMeds perfect prescription for anyone struggling with debt, we access your unique situations and map out the best path to combat your debt.