The Back to School Spending Blues

children boarding school bus
(L.A. Shively/DVIDS)

Even as one of those weird people who have an emotional connection with office supplies, (OMG Post-it Notes, amiright?) back-to-school shopping for my six-year-old still drives me crazy. First of all, some of the things on the list seem like a little bit much (six dozen pencils per kid?). But I'm not a teacher, and since someone else is nice enough to do this teaching him math thing for me, I'm going to let it slide and say "thank you."

But here's what really gets me -- the cost.

The. Cost.

We aren't entirely sure what the military holds for us in the future. We're waiting on promotion news, and even if that comes through we're not entirely sure we want to stay. So we are squirreling away every penny we can get our hands on.

Back-to-school gets expensive. And over here in trying-to-save-some-coin land, it's putting a squeeze on the budget. First, you have all the supplies. Then there's the new clothes (how did all of his jeans get holes in them?) and the new shoes (did this child become Big Foot over the summer?) and the new backpack (surprise! dragging a backpack puts holes in it) and the new lunchbox (a perfect no-lost-lunchbox record was maintained last year until ... the very last day).

So we are bargain shopping, coupon hunting, using Military.com's handy back-to-school discounts guide, shopping sales and using our military discount where possible has been working great. But we could always be saving more, right?

According to financial services company First Command, we aren't alone on this. Thirty-four percent of service members surveyed are cutting back on their spending, according to a recent survey they conducted. That matches up nicely, they say, with the number of service members who (like us) are increasing the amount they save each month juuuuuust in case the Defense Department budget cuts hit them, too.

"The majority of America’s career military families are not new to implementing cost-cutting measures on purchasing back-to-school supplies," said Scott Spiker, First Command's CEO. "These measures are typical of the way service members and their families are reacting to sequestration and Department of Defense budget cuts. Half of these families are increasing the amount they save every month in preparation for cuts. They are ready to send their children back to school with needed supplies, but are taking steps to save money along the way."

Tell us -- how are you saving money this back-to-school season?

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