Back to School on a Budget

If you are still sticking to your New Year’s resolution of better budgeting, pat yourself on the back! It’s so easy to get sidetracked by holidays, summer vacations, parties, life in general, or any countless number of items that might throw a wrench in your penny-pinching plans. If you are a parent or student yourself, heading back to school is no different. From books to clothes to office supplies, the costs can really start to add up, but just as you have done in previous months, you can beat the back-to-school stress with some simple thrifty tricks and tips.

Re-use to Get Back to Class for Less Cash

Take stock of what you already have on hand. You probably have a plethora of pens and pencils laying around the house, gathering dust. Put them to good use! Do you still have crayons, erasers or glue leftover from last year that could still be used? If items from last year are still in good condition, you can use them again this year! Anything from binders to backpacks, lunchboxes to loose-leaf paper can be given new life for the new school year. Give items a facelift by adding touches of colorful paper, stickers, paint, or anything else to give items a unique look. The whole family will enjoy getting together to do arts & crafts, and your bank account will enjoy the added savings!

Make the Grade by Making your Own

As any fan of frugality knows, one of the best ways to save cash is by turning to a little DIY. If you are heading back to school on a budget, then this is one of the ways that you can really see the savings pile up. Instead of springing for a new notebook, opt to make your own! Take an old, plain composition notebook and glue on patterned paper of your choice. Trim around the edges to make the paper even with the edges of the notebook. Add flair with colored card stock – easy and inexpensive! Add geometric shapes to a canvas bag with fine point sharpies to create a personalized pencil pouch.

In order to carry all your thrifty items – bust out the sewing kit, pick out a colorful pattern, and make your own backpack by using this easy to follow guide:

You will get to enjoy your unique supplies throughout the year, and bask in the satisfaction that it cost little more than the time it takes to make them.

Make Educated Food Choices

If you have done so in the past, you know that school lunch programs can often times be expensive. By meal planning, buying in bulk, using coupons, and making your own lunch – you can save a ton on this expense! Deli meat sandwiches and PB&J’s are easy and quick. Mix it up by utilizing dinner leftovers. Cheese sticks, carrots, apples and chips are great snacks to include. Packing lunch can save those pennies!

Deals that Pass the Test

Try to spread out your costs throughout the year. Does your class list call for several boxes of tissues? See if you can spread the purchases across the entire school year, instead of buying it all at once.

Also, take advantage of your state’s sales tax holidays –

Make the dollar store your first stop for school savings! They have paper, stickers, pens, markers, binders, and tissues for a fraction of the cost. For all your clothing needs, skip the mall and instead opt for a cheaper alternative such as your local thrift store. Also, use resources like eBay and Craigslist to find the best deals. Work with your friends and family to swap out items. One’s trash is another’s treasure!

Learn to be a Star Saver

Between the pens, markers, backpacks, clothes and supplies – it’s easy to overspend this back-to-school season. Don’t let your budget plans come crashing down now! By employing some creativity, applying a solid game plan, and utilizing a little DIY, you can head back-to-school in style while still keeping your budget intact.

1 Title-Secured Loans, Secured LOCs and Title Pawns: Maximum pledge amount in Mississippi is $2,500. Maximum loan amount in Tennessee is $6,500, assuming customer qualifies for and accepts both the pledge max of $2,500 and Secured LOC max of $4,000. Refinancing is not available for Mississippi or Tennessee Pledge products. Minimum loan amount for title-secured loans in South Carolina is $601.

Must be at least 18 years of age (19 in Alabama). Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry and motor vehicle appraisal. Must present valid government issued ID. Certain other eligibility requirements and terms & conditions apply. Loan/LOC/Pawn amounts vary by states and product. LOC customers are subject to a periodic collateral review to maintain credit limit. Proof of income documentation and ability to repay analysis is required in Missouri, Nevada, some Texas locations, and Utah.

2 Personal Unsecured Loans/LOCs: Unsecured loan amounts and products not available in all stores/states. Max loan amount for first time borrowers is $1,000 ($500 for an in-store personal loan in AZ). Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher loan amounts, currently up to $2,500. Loans above $1,000 ($500 for an in-store personal loan in AZ) require two consecutive pay stubs showing direct deposit. In-Store: Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. Bring in proof of income (dated within the last 30 days), active bank account details (dated within the last 45 days), proof of residency, a voided check, and a valid government-issued ID to apply. In AZ, a valid AZ motor vehicle registration in your name is also required. Min $601 in SC. Without SSN or ITIN, max loan amount is $300. Online: If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, please visit us in store to apply. Additional items required for eligibility, including: a valid and active email address and telephone number, a valid SSN, and proof of residency for the state in which you are applying (currently AZ, DE, KS, MO, MS, SC, TN, TX, UT or WI). Min $610 in SC. Certain other terms and conditions may apply.

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