Tips to stretch your back-to-school budget
According to the Huntington Backpack Index, the average cost of school supplies for an elementary student in 2016 was $195.62, and that number jumped to $327.43 for a middle school student and $374.01 for a high school student.
And these costs don’t include clothing, fees, or most technology-related expenses.
For families with multiple school-age children, back-to-school expenses could easily cost more than a thousand dollars.
With a bit of planning and know-how, though, you can stretch your back-to-school budget and reduce some of that financial burden.
Here are a few ideas:
Visit a local backpack giveaway
United Way of Williamson County and its Patricia Hart Society partners with GraceWorks Ministries, Publix, Westview United Methodist Church in Fairview, and Bethesda United Methodist Church to provide students with free backpacks filled with basic school supplies. In 2016, the Stuff the Bus school supply drive helped provide more than 2,500 backpacks filled with supplies valued at $125,000 to kids in Williamson County. Backpack giveaways are scheduled for August 5 at the following times and locations:
- Franklin: Liberty Elementary, 600 Liberty Pike — 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Fairview: Fairview High School, 2595 Fairview Blvd. — 10 a.m.-noon
- Bethesda: Bethesda United Methodist Church, 4814 Bethesda Road — 2-4 p.m.
Registration is required to receive a backpack.
Shop the Sales Tax Holiday
Try to time most of your back-to-school buying for Tennessee’s 12th Annual Tax-Free Weekend—set for 12:01 a.m., Friday, July 28 through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 30—to save sales tax on many of the things on your shopping list. Tax-exempt items include clothing valued at less than $100 per item; miscellaneous supplies such as notebooks, pens, paper, and school art supplies; and even computers valued at less than $1,500. Just make sure to check the state’s website to see which items on your list might not be exempt. The savings is available to everyone and would also apply to orders placed online.
Check the sales flyers
Many retailers offer significant discounts on typical back-to-school items, especially during the Tax-Free Weekend, you just need to know where to look. Keep an eye out for sales flyers in your local newspapers, or check your favorite retailers’ websites to compare prices.
Clothing can take a big chunk out of your back-to-school budget, especially if your child happens to be going through a growth spurt. Consider first checking second-hand stores, such as Graceworks Thrift Store, to see if you can find items you’re looking for before paying full retail prices.
The first full day of school for Williamson County students is August 10.