Going back to school is a time of change for everyone -- students and parents alike. Kids are starting a new grade with new classmates and new teachers. For children of our military service members, aka military brats, back-to-school may even include starting at a brand new school in a new city or country. For the parents, your schedule may look different -- as you adjust to some of the same big changes as your kids. When money is tight, it just adds to the stress.
This year in particular, many families are feeling the pinch as inflation has risen to the highest level in many years. But it can help if you make a point to spend your money intentionally and cut back in some areas where you can.
Keep reading to learn our best money tips for going back to school this year.
Think of Small Ways to Save
Some expenses are just necessary, and there’s no way to cut them out. One of these types of expenses is transportation. If you don’t live in a city with a strong public transportation system, you likely are driving your own car to get your kids to school or to soccer practice. While gas prices have decreased in recent weeks, you still may feel like you’re filling up the tank too often.
One way you can stretch your gas -- and your money -- further is by organizing a carpool with other parents you trust from your children’s’ school or after-school activities. Not only can it reduce the amount of driving each family is doing, but it can also help you and your kids make connections with other local families, especially if you’re newer to the area.
Another way you can be a conscious consumer is by grocery shopping at bulk stores if you have one nearby. Wholesale stores like Sam’s Club and Costco sell many of the name brand items you know and love, but in larger quantities.
If you compare the per-unit price to what you may be able to buy at a “regular” grocery store, you’re sure to find that you’re saving money on each item. Even if you don’t need the higher quantity right now, store it away for the future -- and you won’t have to go shopping for it later. It may be a larger up-front cost, but you’ll be saving in the long run.
These may seem like small differences, but they can add up over time.
Shop at Thrift Stores
You know you just bought your kid a new pair of pants… and suddenly he’s grown three inches in the past week and they don’t fit anymore. Buying clothes for kids can be hard given how fast they grow. Instead of taking your kids to the mall for a whole new back-to-school wardrobe, consider buying even just a few items at a Thrift Store.
Thrift stores are a great way to save money, and they have an important connection with the U.S. military, too. Many military families are used to shopping at post thrift stores, knowing they can find great items at a fraction of the original price. And for those who move frequently, thrift stores or resale shops are the perfect place to offload items that won’t make the move. Then, they buy what they need from the military thrift shop at their next location.
Many thrift stores, even those that aren’t on base, also use their proceeds to benefit veterans and service members, such as the Disabled American Veterans thrift stores. When you buy back-to-school clothing second hand, not only are you saving money, but you’re also supporting these important causes.
Just like with many things in life, a lot of good can be done by planning ahead. And while it may be a little bit “late” to plan very far ahead for this school year, it’s never too early to get started for next year!
So, how can you plan ahead for your children’s’ school expenses?
One way is by setting some money aside in a separate account throughout the course of the year. After everyday expenses and contributions to your emergency fund are covered, consider putting some of the extra cash into this account. Then, next summer when it’s time to go back to school, you’ll have a nice little chunk of change waiting for you -- and helping ease some of the back-to-school shopping burden.
Another way you can plan ahead is by keeping an eye on local initiatives that could save you money. For example, some states in the U.S. are offering or have offered sales tax free weekends in August. By doing all school shopping during these weekends, many families have been able to save money on back-to-school expenses that they would have otherwise spent on taxes. If you missed it this year, be sure to look out for next summer so you don’t miss out.
Get the Back-To-School Cash You Need with an Armed Forces Bank Access Loan*
Still need back-to-school cash? Armed Forces Bank, we are committed to serving those who serve, and we’ve got you covered. Our military Access Loan* gives our military community access to the funding you need with a fast and easy approval process. This personal military loan has flexible credit options for Armed Forces Bank clients as well as active duty or retired military borrowers with less than perfect credit.
Features of the Armed Forces Bank Access Loan include:
- Expanded credit options for existing Armed Forces Bank clients
- Credit options for borrowers with little or no credit history
- Fixed terms and monthly payments to simplify your budget
- Automated payments so you'll never miss one
How does the Access Loan work?
1. Apply online in just minutes
2. See instant-approval status
3. Receive and accept the loan offer
4. Get quick access to the money in an Armed Forces Bank account
If you are already an Armed Forces Bank client your loan will be deposited directly to your account. If you are new to Armed Forces Bank, a new Access checking account will be set up first and then your loan proceeds will be deposited there.
Armed Forces Bank Is Always Here to Help Military Families
Armed Forces Bank is working hard to help military families with their finances. If you’re looking for a partner in your personal finance journey, we provide convenient options for savings accounts**, checking accounts**, and more.
*Subject to credit approval. Restrictions apply. Annual Percentage Rate is based on credit score. Only one personal loan allowed to any borrower at any time. Loan terms are based on the loan amount. Origination fee applies. Demand deposit relationship required. Refinance applicants must qualify for a minimum of $250 in additional cash for approval.
**Opening deposit required. Monthly service charge may apply.