Family finance expert offers 5 tips for sticking with your school budget year round

When it comes to school shopping, some things never change. One of the biggest constants is the fact that it almost always costs more than you think it will. On top of that, there is a good chance that you will keep spending on school throughout the year.

?A whopping 70 percent of parents say they exceed their back-to-school shopping budget, according to a survey from Capital One,? says Miranda Marquit, a journalist and family finance expert. ?If you want to avoid breaking the bank, you need to approach school shopping, no matter the time of year, with a plan.?

school budget

Not only can you save money during the fall shopping season, you can also get more bang for your buck year round by using a strategy that allows you to earn credit cards on items you are already saving for. Here are Marquit?s top tips for saving money on school-related expenses no matter the time of year:

  1. Save up for back-to-school all year. The key to avoiding budget busters during times of increased spending, says Marquit, is to plan all year. If you know that you will spend more during back-to-school, set aside a small amount of money every month for this purpose. That way, you won?t be caught off guard by extra spending when school starts next year.
  2. Use what you already have. Before you spend a dime on school supplies, check through what you already have. You may already have some supplies on hand, so there?s no reason to go out and buy more.
  3. Search online for deals, discounts and sales. If you want a better chance of coming in under budget, look for deals and discounts. Search online for what you need. Many websites offer great deals on supplies, and free shipping to boot. Check for sales and coupons and compare local prices to what you find online so you can get the lowest prices available. Don?t forget to keep an idea of what you need in the back of your mind so you can snag good deals no matter when items are on sale.
  4. Avoid buying everything all at once. You don?t have to outfit your child in a completely new wardrobe at the beginning of the school year. Find out what still fits, and then buy a few essentials at end-of-the-season summer sales. Wait to buy other items until sales in October and November. If your child doesn?t need some supplies until a later semester, put off buying if you don?t have the money right now so that you have time to save up.
  5. Earn rewards by buying with a credit card. Using a rewards credit card when you shop for school-related items will improve the value of your purchases. The BuyPower Card from Capital One offers generous Earnings on your purchases that can then be used toward buying or leasing a great new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle, so it?s a great tool if you think there?s a new car in your future. You can also look at cash back cards and airline miles cards, if those rewards make more sense for your finances.

?There?s no reason to let your school budget get out of control,? says Marquit. ?With a little planning and some savvy shopping, along with earnings from credit card rewards, you can make the most of your spending.?

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