Financial expert shares budget tracking tips for school year ahead

School is back in session and with the cost of living rising, many were forced to turn to money saving tips to cover supplies.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 11:27 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - School is back in session and with the cost of living rising, many were forced to turn to money saving tips to cover supplies. But, as the school year goes on it can be easy for extracurricular expenses to come as a surprise.

Tiffany Lockette, a Regions Bank financial wellness relationship manager, said no matter when back-to-school shopping is completed, there will always be extra expenses that come up. She said the key is preparation and having room for adjusting your budget.

When it comes to your budget, Lockette said the first thing to do is to track and compare expenses. She suggested to start by comparing fixed expenses versus variable.

“The fixed expenses, you know, they stay the same: your rent, your mortgage, and then your variable would be cell phone usage, your utility usage,” Lockette said. “So get them in the mindset of really identifying what those are.”

Another tip Lockette shares: planning expenses based on what your student will need. Regardless if the student is in grade school and needs supplies and clothing, or in college and needs books, transportation and meal plans.

“When parents plan ahead, you’re able to set that income to the side, make sure that your spending is in control,” Lockette said. “So that you can have those things when the Fall starts.”

Lockette adds that in cases where a college student is taking care of their school expenses, they can find options and look for alternatives to save.

“That [books] is a very huge expense, but there are also used books that you can purchase, and also one’s online that may be a little bit economical,” Lockette said. “You have the second thing, transportation. Many freshman now are driving cars. When I was back in school we didn’t have access to cars. So, you have to think about gas and you have to think about the wear and tear on the automobile. Are we prepared to have conversations before our children leave home? Another expense is something simple as meal plans. You know, college meals are expensive but there are room and board packages built in to help them save money overtime.”

Lockette said getting a plan together before those expenses come up can take the stress out of shopping. Just be sure to not over buy.

“That goes back to the impulse spending,” Lockette said. “You know, my child needs pencils, schoolbooks, uniforms, but do they really need a laptop if the school is going to supply one? So, you just want to make sure you keep your budgeting intact.”

Lockette said mindset can make or break your budget.

“In budgeting you have to have the mindset of, ‘Is this what I really want or is this what I truly need? I mean I want a new pair of Steve Madden shoes, but do I need them?’”

It’s important to teach students financial literacy and how to budget early on, Lockette stressed. She said this will get them accustomed to protecting and reserving their money. By starting these habits at an early age, she said this will allow them to save over time, especially for those larger purchases down the road like buying a car or home.

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