3 Financial Tips for Back-to-School Season

3 Financial Tips for Back-to-School Season

by Katie Sapio, Member Development Officer

It’s back-to-school season once again, but this year things are a lot different. The COVID-19 pandemic means many kids won’t be attending classes in person. Though this may result in some cost savings on school clothes, bags, lunch boxes and supplies, you’re likely to be facing steeper costs elsewhere, particularly on childcare if you work full-time and need someone at home while your kids are “in class” remote learning. And the ongoing economic downturn caused by the pandemic has the potential to make most families’ financial a bit more unsteady than usual.

man handing backpack to girl

But there are ways you can successfully navigate the financial challenges of returning to school, while teaching your kids important lessons about personal finance along the way. Here are three financial tips for back-to-school season in 2020.

1. Set your back-to-school budget. As with any situation involving personal finance, it all starts with knowing your expenses and building a budget. For this coming school year, your budget will be determined in large part by what your state and/or school district decides to do with regard to maintaining social distancing to contain spread of COVID-19. It’s likely1 different states will have differing policies, and in some cases the solution may be a “hybrid” approach where children attend classes part-time. When it comes to budgeting, you’ll need to prioritize based on whether your child will be in the classroom, at home or alternating. If your child is attending school virtually all or some of the time, you’ll have some cost savings with supplies and other things typically needed for the back-to-school season, as mentioned before. However, you may see a steep increase in childcare costs, which I’ll get to in a moment. Additionally, you may have to buy your child a computer or another type of device so that they can attend their virtual classes, depending on whether or not your school district is providing such devices. You should find out what’s going on in your district and then budget accordingly.

If your child will be attending class in person, and your family is experiencing financial difficulties relating to unemployment, loss of work hours or because of the generally poor economy, you have to make tough decisions about what your child needs and what they don’t need. If you have older children, you might be able to substitute “hand-me-downs” for brand new clothing. If that’s not possible, ask friends or family if they have old clothes for kids they’re not using anymore. The same goes for schoolbags, lunch boxes and supplies. Whether your child is in school physically or not, there will be a budget you have to come up with to decide what you can and can’t afford.

2. Explore all your childcare options. The cost of childcare has been a major concern for families with children for years, and it has increased dramatically2. The prospect of schools being shut down – or a hybrid system where kids aren’t in class all week – can therefore be daunting for any families already struggling during this pandemic. Whatever your usual solution for childcare, now is the time to rethink it. Take 15 minutes to write out all childcare needs and scenarios. Writing it down and visually looking at a plan will eventually help lead to your financial road map. Potential options can include having family members who are home anyway watch your kids, or even getting together with other parents facing a similar dilemma to create a childcare “pool,” the way many parents participate in a carpool. You can use social media groups quite effectively for that purpose.

3. Loop your kids into the financial planning!Since all these financial decisions will impact your kids to some extent, you should involve them in the planning process. Kids may be disappointed about all the ways back-to-school is different this year, but you should use this as a teachable moment. Discuss the need to budget and save money with them. You may even want to set aside some of the money you save in an account for your child, teaching them about the concept of savings and giving them a visible stake in the sacrifices they’re being asked to make. Affinity offers a Savvy Savers Club for members age 12 and under, allowing young members to earn dividends and receive cash rewards based on the increase in their account balance.

Things may be a little scary this back-to-school season, but if you take the time to look at your budget and figure out where you can make cuts or savings, you can successfully overcome this year’s obstacles. And you may be even to teach your child life financial lessons in the process.

For additional information and updates from Affinity about COVID-19, please visit https://www.affinityfcu.com/banking/we're-here-for-you.aspx


This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition are made.  

1 Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/10/us/us-coronavirus-schools/index.html

2 Retrieved from https://www.care.com/c/stories/2423/how-much-does-child-care-cost/