A group of kids running next to a school bus.

August means store shelves are filled to the brim with pencils, crayons, rulers, and other school supplies. Department stores are advertising unbelievable sales, and discount stores have coupons galore. With the average family spending hundreds of dollars on back to school necessities it’s no surprise that it's the second biggest spending season of the year, behind the holiday season.

We realize that this time of year can be taxing on your budget. That’s why we’ve put together some tips to help you out.

Revisit last year’s backpack & clothing before you shop

The backpack that’s been sitting in the corner of your child’s room since last spring is the best place to start. Are there items in there that your kids can reuse? A pencil from last year is still a usable pencil.

Next check the closet. Get stock of what your child has and what they need. You may be surprised what is still usable.

Swap it out

Have clothes that don’t fit? Make them work for you. Get together with friends and swap clothing. Bring five pieces of clothing and swap with another child for five pieces of clothing – budget friendly way to get the most out of your kid's clothes. This also works with used supplies.

Make a list before you hit the store

After your closet clean and swap, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need. Make a very specific list of what you need and take it with you to the store. Check the list often as this will help you stay on target. Stick to this list, and try not to purchase additional items. Your child likely won’t need three sets of markers – even if they are on sale. If you can’t resist, save some of the markers for next year.

Shop end of summer sales

End of summer markdowns are a great way to save. Shop ahead and pick up styles for next spring and summer. It’s likely these bargain pieces will last through early fall. Wrong size? At least you’ll have something for next year’s swap!

Invest in reusable lunch items

Disposable juice boxes can be expensive. Invest in a reusable water container that your child can carry with them daily. Also consider reusable zip bags and cloth napkins. This won’t just save you money, it’s also better for the environment.  

Plan for ongoing school expenses 

Remember all of those sports activities, field trips and classmate parties that caught you off guard last year? Set up a small $20 payroll deduction to your Rivermark savings. You'll not only earn interest, you can easily transfer last-minute funds to your checking whenever you need. Plus, this time next year, you’ll have a sizable savings for back to school.

Now that you're ready to save, go out and tackle the next school year - we hope it's a great one!