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Budgeting for Back-To-School Expenses

Tips to handle those back-to-school expenses in the coming month.

Nashville, Ark. – Department stores are gearing up for back-to-school. It won’t be long until the bell will ring signaling the first day of school. With tax free weekend coming up, now is the time to prepare for those extra back-to-school expenses. Here are some tips for creating – and sticking to a back-to-school budget.

  • Plan it out. Before you buy that first pencil or notebook, estimate how much you can

afford to spend and what your costs are likely to be. Don’t leave anything out! It’s better to know ahead of time if things will be tight. Potential items will include backpack, lunchbox, pens/pencils, notebooks, calculator, computer/laptop, paper, three-ring binder, and clothes. Check with the school your child will be attending. Some schools are providing in classroom supplies. If so, you will not need to purchase them.

            Don’t forget to add in tax. For the past few years, tax free weekends have been offered and they are a great way to save money. Just be aware of large crowds and long lines. If you decide to not shop on these special weekends, you will have to figure in tax.

  • Start early and take time to get ready. It may seem early now, but fact is, sales for

back-to-school gets earlier and earlier. The earlier you start, the more likely you’ll be to avoid panic shopping at the last minute. You will save money, because you won’t be tempted to impulse buy. Think ahead to find the best deals. Chances are you have already started receiving sales flyers in the mail. Check them out for the best deals. Watch for coupons and clip and organize them. Coupons can be found in flyers, newspapers, and online.

  • Get the whole family involved. Back-to-school shopping is a great time to teach

children about basic budgeting and money management.  Younger children can help clip coupons. Older children can compare costs using technology. Use back-to-school shopping as an opportunity to lay the foundation for helping your children develop sound money management skills early. Help them understand the difference between needs and wants, and that purchasing one expensive item means less money to buy other items.

  • Get creative. Who says back-to-school items must be brand new? Shop thrift stores

and garage sales for clothes. Take inventory of leftover items from last year; notebooks may be reused. Count how many pens and pencils you have leftover. If you are starting college and need books, check with friends who may have a book from a previous semester that you can borrow, borrow online, or shop for used books at the bookstore. Just be sure you have the correct edition the instructor is using.

  • Play it smart online. Many people use online shopping to get the best deals.

Be sure to take precautions to keep personal information secure anytime you are shopping online.

            Finally, try to keep the experience positive! Shopping can be a hassle for some people; others thrive on it. There will be crowds. Store inventory may be low. Take this opportunity to teach money management skills to your children. Good money management skills are something you never outgrow!

            For more information on financial management topics or developing a budget, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service which is located on the second floor of the courthouse, or call our office at 870-845-7517. You can also check out our website at The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Research and Extension.

Recipe of the Week

            Blueberries are in season and that means they taste best right now. Here is a great way to enjoy.

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups flour (2 cups in batter, 1 cup to dredge blueberries)

  • 2 cups blueberries

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  2. Add eggs, one at a time.

  3. Add vanilla.

  4. Mix in baking powder, salt and 2 cups of flour.

  5. Fold in blueberries that have been dredged in 1 cup flour.

  6. Pour into 10-inch tube pan which has been buttered and sprinkled with sugar.

  7.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

    Note: It is recommended to use real butter instead of margarine for great results


By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.