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How to Balance Back-to-School Budgets with Multiple Kids


Back-to-school season is upon us! For many parents, this can be a dreaded time of year, especially for families with multiple children needing supplies. While it may be trickier with more than one child, planning your back-to-school budget will help you manage your finances at this time of year.

Different Ages, Different Needs

Generally, children in different levels of education will need different amounts of money. According to the National Retail Federation, the average cost of back-to-school per child is $669.28, with elementary school kids costing the least and high school students costing the most. As children get older, they made need more expensive supplies, such as graphing calculators, while younger children generally just need the basics. Older children may also be more concerned about the clothes and shoes they have for back-to-school than younger children.

As your children get older, it’s important to realize that your back-to-school budget will change from year to year. It will most likely continue to increase as your children grow. While you may not know exactly what your children need until right before school starts, planning ahead and stashing some money aside for back-to-school shopping in the months leading up, you’ll be better prepared when the time comes.

Planning Your Budget

Your back-to-school budget when you have multiple kids won’t be as simple as setting aside an equal amount of money for each child. Take a careful look at the supply lists for each of your children. Determine what absolutely needs to be purchased before the first day. Try to price out those items to come up with how much you’ll be spending on each child. Also consider how much you’re comfortable spending in terms of clothes and shoes. If your budget feels tight, consider areas you can cut back on other expenses or ways you can save. Look for sales on school supply items, ask friends or family members for hand-me-down clothes or supplies, and decide what you can buy later in the year.

Navigating Uneven Spending

When it comes to basic school supplies, you’ll likely be spending more on older children as a result of their advanced needs. However, be cautious when picking out items that you’re buying for all of your children – pencils, folders, notebooks, etc. Your children may notice if one child is getting high-quality notebooks while the other is getting the ones out of the discount bin. If one child needs a higher quality item, explain to the other children and show them the supply list.

Clothes and shoes are an even trickier area to navigate. Middle- and high-school-age kids may be more concerned about the clothes and shoes they’re showing up at school with. Therefore, they may notice if their sibling is getting more expensive items. If you’re buying all of your children new clothes and shoes for back-to-school, consider giving them each a budget. That way, they’re all receiving the same amount of money and can make their own decisions about how it’s spent. Additionally, encourage older children to buy additional or more expensive items with their own money. This will not only (hopefully) prevent arguing among your children but will also teach them important money lessons in the process.

Thinking about back-to-school budgets can have many parents groaning, especially if they have multiple children. Between different needs and competition among siblings, navigating back-to-school shopping with multiple kids can certainly be tricky. But with some advanced planning, you’ll be able to send all your kids back to school well-prepared.

For more information about budgeting effectively, visit the Tayne Law Group blog!

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