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As community members head back to school, it may seem that you’re pulling out your wallet more often. Back-to-school fees, supplies, clothes and extracurricular activities add up. But going back to school doesn’t have to mean that you have to break the bank.

These five tips can help you save money as you or your children head back to school.

1. Cost-effective ways to dine

In the summer, dinner plans tend to be less concrete than throughout the school year. Whether you’re a student or a teacher, when you have to plan your meals around the school day, sometimes it’s easier to grab fast food or pay for a hot lunch. There are simple factors that can be implemented into your eating habits, to make a difference

Tips for eating out during the school year:

  • If you eat out, choose to drink water to avoid paying for a beverage
  • Become a rewards member at your favorite restaurants to earn credit on purchases

Tips for packing a lunch/eating at home:

  • Buy items with long shelf life in bulk
  • If eligible, apply for assistance programs like Foodshare Wisconsin
  • Utilize coupons when shopping
  • Visit local food pantries or food donation giveaways
  • Repackage food that wasn’t eaten or partially eaten

2. Shopping for clothes

Every kid wants the latest and greatest new shoes, backpacks, and clothes. The retail price of new Nikes, Yeezys, and Jordans are over $100 for a brand new pair. That’s just the cost of shoes. You can’t forget the price of new apparel. It’s pricey! Not to mention the additional accessories, uniforms and equipment you need if your child is enrolled in sports, theater, music and/or other activities.

Please note that while fall is approaching, temperatures follow suit with summer weather. Before packing up your shorts and t-shirts, keep those items in mind.

Ways you can save:

  • Continue to wear appropriate summer clothing
  • Shop at thrift stores
  • Utilize social media marketplaces and resell apps
  • Make clothing trades with friends
  • If you wear school uniforms, instead of purchasing new, reach out to classmates & purchase their old uniforms secondhand
  • Limit accessory purchases

3. Finding technology resources

Technology is not only the wave of the future, but it’s the reality of now. While your student may not be in fully-virtual school anymore, homework, resources, and classroom activities are done through the internet. This also includes having access to your work or school email. There’s no denying that the cost of wifi, phones, laptops and tablets aren’t cheap. However, resources in Racine County are available to make technology more accessible.

Here’s how you can save or find access:

4. School fees, books, add-ons

School fees vary depending on if you attend a public or private school. Even public schools come with fees to start school. Sometimes the one-time fee at the start of the school year can be tough to swing. If you have more than one child, the cost rises and can even take a harder hit on you financially.

A way you may be able to save:

  • If your child’s school participates in the Community Eligibility Provision (all students qualify for free meals) you may be able to receive additional benefits. Complete this alternate household income form to find out if it’s possible to receive other benefits and have fees waived.

The following form can be used for any school in the state of Wisconsin, including colleges.

5. Supply Shopping

School supplies are a must for all students. Whether you need the standard notebook or bigger supply items like graphing calculators for this year’s back to school needs, there are ways to cut down the costs.

Many schools and school districts, including RUSD and KUSD, offer free Chromebooks for student use throughout the student’s school career. However, if this is not an option for your school, make sure to check with your school for discount purchasing programs that might be available.

Try these tips:

  • Buy in bulk and split the supplies with a friend or family member
  • Spread out the purchases you make, buy when you need or when you see a sale
  • Attend back-to-school supply drives

Parenting and Back to School

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