Back-to-School Expenses

back to school

Back-to-School Expenses

It’s that time of year again!

Summertime is winding down. Teachers are prepping to return to their classrooms and start decorating. School supply lists are starting to surface. A new school year is right around the corner.

A new school year means only one thing – back-to-school shopping is almost here! Which means you’ll be sending your students back into the classroom before you know it.

According to the Huntington Backpack Index, in the 2018-2019 school year, the amount parents paid in back-to-school supplies was estimated as follows:

• $637 elementary school kids,
• $941 for middle school children, and
• $1,355 for high school students

There’s no way around it – school shopping is expensive. But, it doesn’t have to be. Much like financial planning, saving on back-to-school shopping requires a plan as well. With the right planning and preparation, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank.

Take inventory

Before you go shopping and buy a bunch of supplies, take inventory of your house. Check drawers and cabinets to see what supplies you have that can be used again. Look at backpacks, lunchboxes and even school clothes from last year to see what can be kept and what needs to be replaced. From there, make a list and determine what your child needs and what you have.

Get the school’s supply list

Generally, retailers like Target and Walmart usually have copies of the supply lists divided by grade, school, and district, and those lists are usually available online before they’re in the store. Check the lists, do a little research regarding prices and make a budget accordingly. You can check with your child’s teacher to make sure you’re getting the most important items.

Don’t forget about discount stores and couponing

Do you want to save some real money? Purchase things like notebooks, pencils, and paper at discount stores. If you’re into couponing, you can save some big bucks there as well. Poke around the internet and see where the deals are before you hit the stores.

Take advantage of tax-free weekend

The tax-free weekend is a prime opportunity to save on back-to-school supplies. Depending on the states’ tax rate, shoppers can save anywhere from 4% up to about 9%. Tax-free weekend is held each year to coincide with the back-to-school season. Not sure when your state’s tax-free weekend is? Click here to find out.

If you want to see actual savings, don’t go into back-to-school shopping without a plan. Rather than charging up your high-interest credit card, talk with us about a loan with a plan that works for you. You’d be amazed at the savings you find.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. For help or questions about savings, check with any of our experts at BeFit Financial Credit Union.

Stop by our branch or call us at 1-(707) 557-8900.

5 Ways to Travel on a Budget This Summer

Beach adventure

5 Ways to Travel on a Budget This Summer

Isn’t it funny how you look forward to summer all year long, yet somehow it still seems to show up earlier than you expected? Between work obligations, family responsibilities, and the valiant attempt to maintain some semblance of a social life, most of our schedules are so full that time flies whether we’re having fun or not. So, here we are—standing at the summertime starting line. Even if you don’t have a fully funded vacation fund, wouldn’t you like to get away for a little rest and relaxation? And wouldn’t it be nice to do it without blowing up your budget or going into debt?

5 Suggestions for Budget-friendly Summer Travel

  1. Score some last-minute deals.
    Remember when your parents and teachers would warn you about the dangers of procrastination? They may have been right about schoolwork and household chores, but it turns out waiting until the last minute can be a good thing when it comes to travel planning. To help travelers just like you, the good folks at SmarterTravel.com managed to identify 18 online resources that specialize in finding last-minute deals on hotels, flights, tours, cruises, and more! You spent years telling your mom that you do your best work under the pressure of a deadline—here’s your chance to prove it.
  2. Stay with friends or family.
    Catching up with friends and family is fun, right? If they just so happen to live somewhere you want to visit and you can save a little money by staying with them, wouldn’t that make your trip even better? Yeah, we thought so too. Financial benefit aside, staying with someone you know is also a fantastic way to get recommendations for the best local restaurants and attractions. And with all the money you save on lodging expenses, you can probably afford to take your hosts out for a nice meal while you’re in town. See? This works out great for everyone!
  3. Bring your own food.
    Next to lodging, dining is often the most expensive part of traveling. You already know dining out can be expensive, but if you’re heading to a popular vacation spot, chances are it will be even pricier. Once you figure out where you’re staying, spend a little time meal planning. By shopping for groceries before you go and preparing most of your own meals during your stay, you can save hundreds of dollars and keep your trip under budget.
  4. Plan a day trip.
    OK, maybe you don’t have room in your budget for a weekend getaway or spending a few days with friends. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Day trips are an excellent way to break out of your regular routine and save money while doing it. Take a look at a map. You can probably find an interesting destination within a two- or three-hour drive of your home. Do a little research and find a fun activity or two that you can enjoy while you’re there. Head out early in the morning, spend the day creating spontaneous memories, and grab a good meal before heading back home. We bet that when you look back, these day trips will be some of your favorite travel memories.
  5. Collect experiences instead of “stuff.”
    Think back on your favorite childhood vacation. What makes that particular trip stand out from the others? Time with family? Seeing new places? Unexpected adventures? Whatever your answer may be, we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the $10 gift shop keychain you begged your parents to get for you. Sure, trinkets are fun for a little bit, but the joy they provide rarely sticks with you. Experiences, on the other hand, are not only enjoyable in the moment; they often get better with time. If you’re going to plan a last-minute summer getaway (and you definitely should), focus on creating memorable experiences rather than spending too much money on souvenirs you’ll probably lose anyway.

We started this article talking about procrastination and how you can make it work for you. But even though there’s an adrenaline rush that comes from pulling off a last-minute travel miracle, it would be nice to enjoy a stress-free vacation next summer, wouldn’t it?

As soon as you get back from this year’s impromptu summer excursion, why not start putting a little money into a vacation-specific savings account each month? By keeping your vacation fund in a savings account until you need it, you not only reduce the temptation to spend it on something else, you gain the ability to earn interest throughout the year.

To make the most of your savings, speak with a service representative at BeFit Federal Credit Union and ask us which account would be the best option for your vacation-saving goal.