Back to school means back to budgeting

Between vacations and sunny day activities, there’s never a dull moment in the summer. And all those fun times often cause you to stray from your regular routine — and sometimes your budget. After all, extra fun often comes with extra expenses.

While there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, back-to-school time is a great opportunity to get back on track with your monthly budget. Here’s how…

Review your expenses

In general, you should take the time to review and update your budget every month. And if you don’t even have a family budget, the busy back-to-school season is a great time to start. Review all of your expenses and determine what’s necessary to spend and what you can cut out. Basing your monthly budget on past spending habits will help you create some realistic goals, and see where you’re spending too much without realizing it. But if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need some help. Check out these resources:

Learn creative ways to save

These days, there are many ways to save money on your daily expenses. From reward programs to coupon apps, finding deals is always worth the extra effort. Coupon apps for various grocery stores can help you find deals in your area, but don’t buy things you don’t need just because they’re on sale. Search for discounts for the items you need. Check out this guide to the top ten best couponing apps.

Re-commit to your budget

This is the hardest part — especially in the months to come. But why create a budget if you’re not going to stick with it? Your kids will be doing their homework each night, so make sure you do yours, too! Each month, sit down and check your expenses against your budget to make sure you’re meeting your goals.

Creating and sticking to a budget is hard work, but you’ll appreciate your efforts when they turn into real, tangible rewards down the road. Seize the back-to-school budget refresher and enjoy an opportunity to keep your money where it belongs — in your bank account!

August deals you don’t want to miss

August Deals

Back to school rules the deals in the month of August. But even if you’re not a student anymore, there are still deals for you to take advantage of this month. And thanks to one season transitioning to another, you’ll see even more low prices. Have a peek at this list and start planning to save.

Computers

With students heading back to high school and college, this is a great time to replace your laptop or add on some computer accessories. Historically, though, this is not such a great time to expect killer deals on mobile phones and tablets.

School supplies

For the very best savings on school supplies, watch the ads for what’s called “loss leaders” — items priced well below their retail value to get customers in the door. For optimal savings, shop around. Stick to your list, but stock up for the school year.

Summer gear

Watch for clearance sales of 50–75% off seasonal merchandise in many departments. Pick up a few extra swimsuits for yourself and maybe the next size or two up for the kids. Elsewhere in apparel, buy summer shirts in fabrics and colors that transition well into fall. Finally, replenish your backyard supplies with hot deals on patio accessories and lawn games.

Sales tax holidays

Do you live in one of these 17 states with a sales tax holiday in August? Don’t miss out. If you stack this deal with the back-to-school savings on supplies, clothes and computer equipment, you will keep even more cash in your checking account.

Vacation

Once school begins, many vacation spots enter the off-season and reduce rates to woo guests. Now is great time to hop online and book a long weekend escape for September or October. You’ll enjoy great weather, more elbow room, and more cash to spend on fun things.

Car

August is the month when car dealers start going into close-out mode to make way for next year’s models. If you’re in the market, now’s the time to start shopping around for interest rates and rebates. Even if you don’t find something that’s quite right, worry not — the closeout sales will continue through the fall.

Before the leaves start to fall, you could be realizing the savings of a well-planned shopping trip.