Scholastic Savings: Conserving Cash In The School Year
When it comes to the cost of education, tuition gets most of the press. And with good reason. According to recent data from CollegeBoard.org, tuition fees for 2018-19 at US state colleges averaged $10,230 for state residents and $26,290 for all other students. And private non-profit colleges weighed in at approximately $35,830 per year.
But even if you’re not currently putting your kid through college (or paying for a private K-12 education), there are still plenty of standard expenses to shoulder ranging from school supplies and computers to athletic programs and tutoring. The good news is, it’s entirely possible to enjoy solid savings while still getting the best for your student.
Here are just a few ideas to help you shop smart and conserve cash:
Sweep and Swap
Believe it or not, you may actually have a surplus of school supplies lying around your house in desk drawers, closets or basement bins. Do a “supply sweep” and round up all the assorted provisions you’ve already got, then make a list of everything to avoid duplicate purchases. But before you shop, coordinate with your friends and neighbors with school-aged children to host a “supply swap.” Those extra reams of loose-leaf paper or multi-packs of markers you’ve had stashed for the past year could be saving you cash instead of gathering dust.
Whether your child needs help with math, reading or SAT test-prep, you don’t have to break the bank to find affordable academic assistance. Many local libraries offer free homework help from live, online tutors or workshops dedicated to specific skills like test-taking or essay writing. Consider hiring a college student. They typically charge less than more established tutors and come with the benefit of specialization in their chosen major (math, English, etc.). Many organizations such as the United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs of America or the YMCA offer free or discounted tutoring services or can point you in the direction of additional resources.
While it’s important to be cost-conscious overall, it makes more sense to do your deepest discount digging for the most expensive items like computers, tablets and other electronics. When it comes to technology staples like a laptop, there are plenty of ways to shave hundreds of dollars off the sticker price. Decide which features you really need and consider nixing extras like touch screen capability or a dedicated graphics card (GPU). No time to search for sales? Follow your favorite stores on social media to get the latest discounts and deals sent straight to your device. And if having the absolute latest-and-greatest model isn’t critical, a refurbished computer is another great economical option. And some electronic stores offer great prices on previous years’ laptops and tablets to help make room for new inventory.
According to a recent survey by Utah State University, the average American family spends $2,292 per year on sports participation for their kids. And the dollar amounts can climb to upwards of $20,000 with additional investments in personal trainers and extensive team travel. But with a little ingenuity, you can keep the extracurricular costs in check. Have your children pick one sport apiece. Narrowing their choices will encourage them to focus on what they’re most interested in and develop a greater dedication to it. Buy equipment used instead of brand new. You can find plenty of secondhand gear in great shape on sites such as SidelineSwap.com, then turn around and sell the equipment online once your child has outgrown it.
Most kids want to head to class with an updated wardrobe. But while retailers often put clothing on sale for back to school in late summer, prices typically dip significantly in the fall after the big clothes-buying rush has died down. Buy one new outfit for your kids to wear on the first day, then hit the stores a few weeks later to take advantage of greater discounts in September and October.
Implement a few of these tips to help you reap the rewards of savvy spending!
NOTABLE DATES IN SEPTEMBER:
- SEPTEMBER 2: Labor Day
- SEPTEMBER 6: National Read a Book Day
- SEPTEMBER 8: National Grandparents Day
- SEPTEMBER 13: Positive Thinking Day
- SEPTEMBER 21: World Gratitude Day
- SEPTEMBER 28: National Good Neighbor Day