As preparations begin for the next school year, the annual sense of excitement for all things new is back: new academic year, grade, classroom, teacher, clothes, supplies, and the list goes on.

And yet, this year back-to-school season looks a little different from the ones before.

Some kids are heading back to the classroom (with extra precautions in place, like hand and surface sanitizers) and others are heading back to virtual learning or home schooling. No matter the educational format your school or college-aged kids are heading back to, one thing hasn’t changed: back-to-school shopping comes with a big price tag!

Here are a few tips on how to save money on back-to-school shopping:

 

  1. Make a list and check it twice.

Santa may be on to something with his list making and checking, because it’s a great way to avoid duplicate purchases or paying more for last minute store visits for school supplies. Comb through your kids’ school supply lists from their teachers and make one big, consolidated list of supplies you’ll need to find. Before you head out to the store, be sure to check your home and make an inventory of what you already have on hand. Bonus tip: If you have extras you won’t need, you may be able to swap with a neighbor or friend.

  1. Think ahead (or ask about activities not noted on the list).

If you’re home-schooling—either on your own, or through a virtual program—plan out your activities for at least the first few months. You can use your lesson plans to group the type of school supplies you’ll need so you can purchase only what you need for the week or month (or to plan ahead and buy in bulk). You can also reach out to your child’s teachers to see if there are extracurricular activities that you should plan for, like a field trip to an apple orchard or nature center, in case you need to set aside funds.

  1. Watch for sales and other ways to rack up rewards.

Start keeping track of the costs of various school supplies now, so you know what a good price is when you see it and can plan your purchases accordingly. You can check prices online to help plan your shopping trip by making lists for each store based on where you find the best price for each item. Verve members with the RewardsFirst MasterCard® can use their card to earn points—and if you pay off the balance right away, you can avoid paying interest on the charges.

  1. Start saving for next year, today!

Give your checking account a much-needed recess next year by setting aside a little money each week. Saving as little as $5 a week adds up to $260 (plus dividends) over the course of a year and can really make a difference when it comes to funding back-to-school expenses in 2021.

Set up recurring, automatic money transfers to your savings from another account to take the guesswork and hassle out of growing your savings. You choose the amount you want to save, and we’ll help you make it possible. Learn more about building a Back-to-School savings account and start saving automatically today!

 

Spend a little extra money, get a lot more school-year sanity.

While the typical list of school supplies (notebooks, pencils, etc.) applies to virtual or home schooling, we know that juggling work and teaching your children can be difficult. With a little advanced preparation, you can face the new school year—no matter what it looks like—with confidence and positivity. To save time and energy (and hopefully help keep you from feeling overwhelmed), we put together this list of a few strategic purchases that could earn you some sanity dividends in the long run:

  • Additional story or picture books, coloring books, workbooks, puzzles and games for when younger kids finish activities early or you need to keep them busy while you help another child with assignments (or when you need to be on a work call).
  • Art supplies like paints, paper, easel, brushes and craft supplies for at-home art class.
  • Sports equipment like balls, skates, bikes, bats or tetherball to keep your kids physically active.
  • Subscriptions for magazines, audiobooks, games, online learning tools and more to help supplement your virtual school or home-school curriculum.
  • New tablets, laptops, printers or other technology to help access and complete school assignments.
  • Planners, pencil sharpeners, whiteboards and other classroom basics like globes and maps, and school room decor like construction paper letters and numbers or even a bulletin board complete with border and themed decorations.
  • Snacks, snacks and more snacks!