5 tips for back-to-school budgeting

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Rachel Cruze offers five tips for budgeting for back-to-school supplies.

Can you feel it? Fall is right around the corner, and that means it’s back-to-school time.

Hopefully you haven’t waited until the last minute and you have most of your shopping done. If not, that’s OK. Here are a few guidelines as you get everything together for your child’s first day back in the classroom.

1. Make a budget … and stick to it. Whether you’re heading to Target this afternoon or a week from now, you need to make sure all your back-to-school costs are included in your monthly budget. And if you’re not in the habit of making a monthly budget, well, this is a great opportunity to get a little practice. Check out EveryDollar.com. It’s our free budgeting tool, and it’ll help you make a budget you can actually stick to.

2. Focus on needs, not wants. Your 8-year-old might want the fancy Lightning McQueen backpack, but that doesn’t mean they need it — especially if it’s $20 more than a basic backpack. I’m not saying you can’t make back-to-school shopping fun, but don’t overspend just because your kid throws a fit in the backpack aisle.

3. Keep it simple. Remember, you just need the basics to get started — not everything you’ll need for the entire school year. If money is tight, buy the minimum your child needs right now, then work the rest into your budget over the next few months.

4. Talk with your kid’s teachers. If you haven’t received a list of items your child needs for the upcoming year, be sure to touch base with the school and reach out to the teacher. Most schools are pretty good about covering this type of information at orientation or open house, so hopefully you’ll have what you need from them well before you head out to shop.

5. Look around online. Some of the best deals are online. Start with Amazon, then do some research and see what else you might be able to order without even leaving home. You might consider buying pencils, paper and other items that…

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