As summer draws to an end, we’ll soon be praying as our children head back to school this fall, asking God to help them stay strong in their faith and avoid the pitfalls of peer pressure and negative influences.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 KJV

We make every effort to equip our little ones with the knowledge that God loves them and will be with them every step of the way as they embark on the new school year, but we also need to equip them with the other things they’ll need for a successful school year. Back-to-school time can be costly, especially for parents with multiple children, but there are some simple ways to stretch dollars and cut costs in the process.

1. Use Layaway Programs

Many stores offer layaway services. Not only is layaway a good way to budget financial resources, paying as you go rather than charging items to a credit card, layaway lets you set aside the items parents know children will need and then wait for the sales. Just as most stores allow you to adjust a sales receipt, they also allow you to adjust layaway orders for store sales, as long as you do it in person and within the sale’s advertised time-period. You’ll ensure that you’ll have the items on your child’s school supply list rather than searching high and low for them all over town later, and you’ll also enjoy the benefits of saving each time an item goes on sale.

2. Stick to the List 

If it’s not on the list, you don’t need to buy it.

3. Comparison Shop 

Do your homework online before heading out the door so you know exactly where to get each item on the list at the best deal.

4. Check Last Year’s Stock

Before you head out to the store, see what you still have on hand from last year and adjust your shopping list accordingly.

5. Use Coupons

In addition to using coupons sent to your home, check store websites and peruse those online coupon sites for deals. While in a store, always ask if they have any coupons you should know about. Sometimes just asking that simple question will prompt the sales clerk to use a coupon kept on-hand at the register. If you get to the store and find you don’t have the coupon you need, use your smartphone to pull it up for use at the register.

6. Limit Your Spending

Your child is sure to come home that first week back to school with a wish-list for clothing items or accessories she’s seeing on other children, so save your self the headaches, time and money, by limiting the new outfits you buy before school starts to just one or two. That way, you can go back to the stores after school has started to find the items she’ll be sure to use.

7. Shop Budget-friendly Stores

Check resale shops, yard sales and craigslist for deals on those name-brand clothing items. Many of these stores have strict policies for the conditions of the items they’ll accept, which means you’re likely to find clothing in great condition for pennies on the dollar.

8. Ask Around

If your child will be attending a school that requires a uniform, ask the office where most parents shop for deals. The school may even have a resale day when families bring in outgrown uniforms to resell. 

9. Look Out for School Deals

Check your school and school district website for notices of specials.

10. Plan Out School Lunches Carefully

If you child plans to buy, discuss sticking to the general menu rather than purchasing items a-la-carte. Let him know he can still have extras but needs to plan ahead and bring them from home rather than paying the higher school cafeteria prices.

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