Back to School on a Budget

According to some reports, parents spend about $1,000 buying back-to-school items for their kids each year. This year, don’t be shocked by the price tag. Instead, use these four tips to help get your kids back to school on a budget.

Set your budget

This might seem like a no-brainer. But like anything, it’s easy to overspend when we don’t have a set amount we’re working with. If you don’t already have money for school supplies, set a limit now for how much you’re willing to spend for this season. Knowing your boundaries will help you and your family make smart choices about what you can and can’t afford. 

For next time around, use Goodbudget to help you save what you need by creating a ‘Back to School’ Annual Envelope with a budget that makes sense for you and your family. You can contribute towards that savings goal with each paycheck, so you’ll have some cash already set aside when the next school year rolls around.

Make a list of what you need

There can be a lot of stuff to buy when it comes to back to school shopping, so making a list before you head to the store can help save both time and money. To do that, schedule some time with your kid so you can both brainstorm things they’ll need for the upcoming year. Some teachers even help by sending out school supply lists ahead of time, so be sure to include those items too.

Generally, in addition to new clothing, it’s likely they’ll need something in the way of general school supplies, equipment or materials for extracurriculars, and even maybe electronics. (These things can add up quickly, making it all the more important to have saved up and set aside what’s needed in a dedicated Envelope.)

But don’t stop there! Your overall budget might also need to shift with your child spending less time at home. So considering adjusting things like groceries, transportation, and childcare now that they’re heading back to school.

Set up a clothing swap with families in the area

Back to school clothing can be a big expense, and kids are often growing out of things that are still in great condition. A clothing swap is a great way to exchange clothes your kids can no longer wear for items that they can. Have each family set up a booth with the clothes their kids have grown out of sorted by size. Then, everyone can take turns going through the piles to find clothes that work for them at no cost.

Find out if your state has a tax-free weekend

Some states offer cool perks to help lower the costs of back to school shopping. If you live in a state that has a tax-free weekend policy, take advantage of the extra savings you can get on clothes and school supplies.

With these things in mind, it’s possible to not break the bank when shopping for school. And Goodbudget can help you track your spending along the way.


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Get the latest in budgeting content — straight into your inbox.

Thank you!

See you in your inbox.

Search for


Say hello to Goodbudget

  1. A strong philosophy.
    Transform your financial life with the Goodbudget Way.
  2. A time-tested system.
    Goodbudget is based on the envelope budgeting method.
  3. Great budget software.
    Available for the Web, Android, and iPhone. Get started with Goodbudget. Sign up now!

Get Help




Leave a Comment