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The back-to-school budget

How to spend and save all year long

It's back-to-school time. Time to trade beach trips for bus pick-ups, and BBQs for PTA meetings. Odds are, your school supply shopping list reads like this: clothes, shoes, backpacks - all the basics. But the school year is long, so whether you've finished your shopping or are waiting for last-minute deals, we've got some tips to help keep your school-supply budget in check all year long.

Extra for the extras.

If you have a child who's active in sports, each new season may require new equipment, clothing and footwear - and the same goes for other activities like art classes, theater, music, dance, academic and social clubs. If you factor these costs into your monthly budget, these costs are easier to manage. If money is tight, talk to your child about choosing one club or sport per season, or if they have a part-time job, talk with them about budgeting and pitching in.

Field trip tip.

Check in with your child's teacher to see if they have a list of any upcoming trips planned, including the cost. Plan your budget accordingly so you're ready when that permission slip comes home.

The family that shares, saves.

Talk to your cell phone provider about adding a line to your plan for your child - and then talk to your child about responsible cell phone use. Set up tracking alerts together to monitor data and text usage so you don't get hit with overages, which can add up. And, if your child is older, maybe they can chip in - whether it's money or chores.

Time for vacation - already?

When your child has school closings, you may have to request time off from work or arrange other care. If you're taking a family vacation, you can start saving now. And, even though summer just ended, saving ahead for camps could help you get a discount if there is early registration, or be ready with the full amount when it's time. TD Bank can help you save for any goal - whether it's a vacation or summer camp. You can choose from a range of Savings accounts to meet your specific needs.

Catch up on recent articles:

 Say goodbye to debt
 Vacation on a shoestring
 Financial advice for new grads
 Read more archived articles

Perez, Maria. Back to School Budgeting - All Year Long. N.p. unknown. N.d. August 2013.

Perez, Maria. How to Make Back to School Budgeting Fun. N.p. unknown. N.d. August 2013.

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This article is based on information available in August 2013. It is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.

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Who says back-to-school shopping can't be fun?

Here are some creative and inexpensive ways to have fun while teaching your child about money management.

Chart it.
Pull out the crayons and markers and have your child draw a savings chart. Put your budget at the top and fill in the chart as you go. Clip coupons, comparison shop and come in under budget!

Have your child divide your list into "needs" and "wants." Create a BINGO game using the "needs" and cross off the squares as you shop. Use the "wants" as a reward for crossing off a row of "needs" - Bingo!

Map quest.
Plan the best shopping route, pack snacks and have a "road trip" for school supplies. Include stops along the way to keep it fun - playgrounds, a picnic area, the library and other entertaining (and free!) stops.

Put on a show.
Clothes can be a large part of the back-to-school budget. Before you shop, have your child try everything on so you can make a list of things that fit, new ways to wear old clothes and what items you need to buy.

Put on a sale.
Take the old clothes that don't fit or your child doesn't like, and price them to sell. Pair it with other items you don't want and have a yard sale. Have your child help you price the items and the day of the sale.

For more tips on how to save, read: Save on Back to School Shopping