If You’re a Parent, You Need This in Your Budget

If you’re a parent, you probably know the feeling.

You’ve got everything together for your little one’s first day of school. Your child looks great in their new outfit and holding a new lunchbox. You’re a proud parent. But then you hear a voice from down the hall: “Mom! My shoes are too small!”

Oh no, you think. You just bought them in April. But, after a summer full of flip-flops and sandals, those shoes haven’t been worn since the last day of school.

Now you’re left scrambling to figure out a way to fit new shoes into the tiny amount of money you have left in the back-to-school budget.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Every year, the back-to-school rush somehow manages to catch parents off-guard—even though they know it’s coming. These last-minute frantic spending sprees put dents in their bank accounts and holes in their budgets.

Here’s a list of things to keep in mind while you are preparing for your child to go back to school. Just remember that it's never too late to start tweaking your budget!

Fall jackets: When the kids start school, the weather is perfect for shorts and T-shirts. But, before you know it, fall will be here and they will have outgrown their jackets from last year. Get your hands on these before retailers start hiking up the prices for the fall!

Shoes: If your child is wearing flip-flops all summer, don’t get caught off-guard when they have outgrown their regular shoes by now or the end of the year.

Backpacks: That worn-out backpack from last year might not make it through the first month of school. Keep your eyes peeled and you might find a deal.

Lunch money: A few dollars a day for lunch can add up over the course of a month, especially during a school year. Do you have this money marked in your budget? If the school allows you to pay for lunches ahead of time or add money to a lunch account, then that’s a great way to build this money into your budget.

Medical requirements: Does your child need immunizations any time during the school year? Are they competing on a fall or winter sports team and need to complete a physical? Waiting rooms will be full, so make an appointment as far in advance as you can.

Fees: Workbook fees, lab fees, technology fees, PTA dues, club dues, field trip fees—they all add up and can cause death by a thousand cuts. Do a little research to find out what extras you’ll be paying for throughout the school year.

Sending the kids back to school doesn’t have to be stressful. If you have a little patience and do a little planning, you won’t bust your budget—and you won’t be out there in the middle of all those parents who waited until the last minute.