According to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey, the average back to school spending amount is $688 – and that amount is per child! If you need some extra funds for your back to school shopping, downsizing before the shopping season can help you generate the funds that you need for this expensive time of year. Try these tips to get the savings you need.

  • Decrease the Number of Accounts You Have

Each account that you have represents a potential service or interest charge. Try to close unused accounts or merge them together. For example, if you are paying multiple service charges on multiple bank accounts, try to decrease the number of accounts you have to one or two. Do the same for cable, Internet, phone and utility packages. Consolidate your credit card accounts by transferring balances to the lowest interest rate card.

  • Consolidate Insurance Policies

If you have not already merged your home, auto and life insurance accounts, do so now. Choose a company that offers a multi-policy discount. Internet sites are readily available to show you side by side comparisons of different insurance policies.

  • Downsize Your Cable Package

With free Internet tv and cheap movie rental options, most people can probably downsize their cable without even missing their favorite shows or noticing the difference. Get rid of expensive cable channels. Even if you have signed a contract for service, you can usually downsize your package during the contract term without any adverse consequences.

  • Get Rid of a Second Car

If you live in a city or have access to public transportation, you may be able to get rid of a second vehicle. You may also be able to accomplish this goal by trading off with a spouse that works different hours than you or by carpooling with co-workers. Your kids may be able to walk to school or ride the boss. Your savings can be significant, including savings for a car payment, insurance, wear and tear, repairs, gas and other related expenses.

  • Trim Excess Expenses

Every family’s situation is different, but most people can examine their spending and find areas where they can trim their budget. You may be able to decrease the amount that you spend on clothing. You can swap your gym membership for a cheaper membership at a local community center or family organization. Pack your lunch for work instead of eating out. Commit to only a few limited extracurricular activities for your kids this year. Find cheaper service providers for any work that you have completed in your house or on your appearance. Track your spending for a month and keep detailed records of where the money went so that you can set new parameters for your new budget.

  • Clean Out Closets

Clean out your children’s closets before heading clothes shopping for the new school year. You can see first-hand the number and quality of items that they can reuse for the school year. You can also relegate clothes that no longer fit your older children to your younger children.

  • Clean Other Areas of Your Home

By cleaning out your office, junk drawers and your garage, you may unearth supplies that you were not aware that you had. You may be able to come up with a supply of pens, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors and other items that can trim your need for some supplies.

  • Organize a Swap

Host a swap with other parents where you can exchange clothes, shoes, backpacks and other supplies. Some parents should be younger and older than your own children so that there is a variety of sizes, styles and types of clothing items and school supplies that are available to each member of the swap.

  • Plan Wisely

Take your school list with you when you go shopping. Plan your shopping events around sales. Leave the kids at home when you shop to avoid impulse buys. You can also find discounted secondhand items at consignment shops and online auctions for your children’s clothing needs. Some communities also offer events that provide free school supplies to participants. You can also get some essential items at outlet malls and at dollar stores at a low price point. 

Jack Cage writes on a variety of topics for Upack portable storage.