Office of Student Financial Success

Back-to-School Budgeting

Welcome back, ISU students! As summer comes to a close, it’s time to sharpen those fresh pencils and prepare for school starting up again. But perhaps the most important back-to-school item you’ll need is a budget. Take a look at these tips for creating – and sticking to – a back-to-school budget.

Plan it out
Before you even buy one notebook, estimate how much you can afford to spend overall and what the costs are likely to be. It’s better to know ahead of time if things will be tight. Don’t forget to factor in tax too. Many states have useful sales tax holidays which include school supplies, clothing and books.

Start early and take time to get ready
It seems that sales for back-to-school gets earlier and earlier every year. The earlier you start, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid panic shopping at the last minute – and spending more than you can afford. Think ahead to find the best deals and be on the lookout for the big sales. Using back-to-school shopping is a great opportunity to lay the foundation for helping you develop sound money management habits throughout the rest of the school year!

Choose appropriate electronics
As technology advances, the use of electronics is continually evolving and changing the classroom environment. While rules regarding technology differ from school to school, technology is an important, and expensive tool. Before making costly decisions, evaluate which devices will be most useful, whether it’s a laptop, tablet or smartphone for use inside or outside the classroom.

Learn from the experience
Make your savvy back-to-school approach an annual tradition. Keep track of this year’s expenses to help figure out the budget for next year. Keep notes about what you discover, like where the best thrift stores are and when the store shelves start to empty. They’ll come in handy a year from now. If your cost saving decisions help you come out ahead, create a plan to put the extra money saved towards your student loans or into a separate savings account.

Practice these smart shopping habits each year, and by the time you’ll graduate, you’ll have saved a bundle and be much more prepared for the real world.