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Organizing Back to School Finances

Summertime is winding down and families are gearing up for the chaos that is associated with back to school. According to the National Retail Federation, last year consumers spent an average of $688.62 on back to school expenses for their children. That did not include other expenses that pop up throughout the year. With many families struggling, having to shell out that amount of money could put a strain on their finances that might be difficult to overcome. “This is the perfect time to sit down and map out a strategy to help you organize your financial obligations for the year,” states Jana Castanon spokesperson for Apprisen. “Get the kids involved in the discussion. It is important that they understand there are limited funds and compromises might need to be made.”

Apprisen offers some suggestions to get started.

Create a Budget

  • Consider all the expenses you might incur for the whole year - extra-curricular activities, pictures, special events, fieldtrips, fundraisers, etc.
  • Open a special account where you can deposit money each paycheck and then you would have it available when the expense comes up.
  • Limit the number of extra-curricular activities your child participates in or purchase equipment at garage sales or second hand stores.
  • In the case of special events, like dances, have a set amount you are willing to pay and then let your child decide how to spend it. Have your child chip in some of their money to cover any “extras” they may want.

Back to School Shopping

  • Search for left over supplies from last year. 
  • Do you really need all of the items listed in the quantities that are suggested?
  • Prioritize the list by the supplies you must buy now and things that could wait until later.
  • Take advantage of tax free weekends and coupons.
  • Use phone apps and online websites to do comparison shopping.

Before walking out the door, have a plan on where you are going to go and how much you are going to spend. “It is a good idea to let your child decide how to divide up the budgeted amount,” continues Castanon. “They may be happy with using the same backpack from last year because they really want the more expensive notebook. The more control they have over these decisions, the better prepared they will be for adulthood.”


Apprisen, a national nonprofit credit counseling agency, has been helping consumers manage their finances and get out of debt for over 55 years.

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