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Managing Finances in Tough Times: Planning for Back-to-School Expenses

Dad and daughter shopping

Even during challenging times, one constant is the importance of planning for back-to-school spending.  With a little planning, families can successfully manage these additional expenses. Here are some tips to help you as you prepare for the school year ahead.

Consider your spending plan. The pandemic has changed household finances, given unexpected loss or changes in monthly income. GreenPath’s budgeting worksheet is a great way to handle these situations by tracking income against expenses. Once you have a good handle on your current financial state, determine how much you truly feel comfortable spending.

Know the difference between “wants” and “needs.” Prioritize your needs list. What do you need to buy before school starts, and what can you purchase later? What really needs to be replaced versus what can be reused? If new clothes are needed, watch for sales or online stores offering the most competitive pricing

Make it a family affair. Whether heading to the computer store to support online learning or buying a new backpack, take your needs list with you and stick to it. If your kids will be shopping with you, share the list with them beforehand. Better yet, have them help you create it. If they want something that isn’t in the budget, offer them the option to chip in their own money. Look at school shopping as an opportunity to get kids more involved or even suggest spending more of their own money on back-to-school supplies.

Did you know Educators offers student checking accounts to help your child save and keep track of their money? Learn more at

Be watchful of credit card balances. If you use a credit card, keep a close watch on the balance. This can be a simple process of assembling printed receipts in an envelope after each shopping outing. That way, you’ll have a clear reminder of the credit card balances as you shop.

This article is shared by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national nonprofit.


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