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Episode 124: School is back BABY!

The cost of going back to school, and how to reduce it with Mak and G
Episode 124: School is back BABY!


Today, Mak and G look at the costs of going back to school, how we can save money, and the power of budgeting…


Going back to school isn’t cheap, the average American spends a whopping $850 on school supplies when going back to school.


But why are we spending so much, is there a way we can get back to school without breaking the bank?


This “Money With Mak and G” podcast episode, Mak and G look at why school supplies are getting more expensive, the power of budgeting, and how we can reduce the costs of going back to school…


“The number one rule of becoming more financially well off is, spend less than you make.” – G


“If you don’t ask, you’ll never get it.” – Mak and G


“Cutting down an activity or 2 can seriously save money, with fees, instruments, and equipment you could be talking $10,000 a year.” – Mak

Time Stamps:

01:17 – Our weekly market update and how crypto’s changed.

02:25 – How much people spend on school supplies and why it’s increasing.

03:03 – How to reduce your spending and save money.

03:38 – The power of making a budget.

04:37 – How the internet can help you save money.

05:43 – Tax incentives, coupons, and the power of ‘price matching’.

08:08 – How to save money throughout your school year.



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MAK: I can’t believe summer is over.  It went by so quickly, but there were a lot of great things we did. Waterpark, scuba diving, cooking classes, tennis, and more.

GRANT: Yep, plus, we did get some time to get our summer reading done, and the math refresher helped too.  Overall, a solid “B+” even with COVID and getting the vaccine. I also got to play a pretty solid amount of video games along the way.  So, I can’t complain.

MAK: You got that right.  There are surely some things I’d like to forget, but overall really great. Plus, we got to see the Olympics, without worrying about getting up early for school.  Even though school is a lot of work, I’m pretty excited to get to see my friends again.  I’ve got a pretty good schedule this year. So, I’m super excited.

GRANT: We’re here in the studio recording for the week ended August 6th, on Tuesday, August 10th, it’ll be our first day back, face-to-face.  How’d we get here so fast?  Many kids in our area have already started, but this week is the biggest week across the country to go back to school, with almost 30% of all students.  However, there still is a bit over 40 percent that will start after this week. You know we may be in for a wild ride.

MAK: I agree.  Let’s hit some high points in the market.  A new high for the Dow and S&P and the Nasdaq was VERY close.  Apple isn’t as high as before, but it’s hanging in there. I thought I’d mention one of the bigger movers today.  It was Aurinia Pharmaceuticals.  The company lost money, but many stocks are all about FUTURE results.  Well, it released a new Lupus drug, that had great sales. So, that positive increase drove it up over 20% for the day.  Weird how you can lose money, and the price goes up.  Anyway, thought I’d throw that in there because it caught my eye. 

GRANT: Nice. I love watching the big movers and understanding the reason for the change.  It keeps increasing our Financial IQ.  Bitcoin made a move earlier in the week. Hey, for a long time, people weren’t really sure whether Bitcoin was here to stay or not.  We watched it moved for various reasons, like Elon Musk.  However, the Senate was talking about crypto this week. Yes, that’s part of Congress. That makes crypto much more “real”.  Once that happens, it gives investors more confidence to think it’s going to be more accepted which increases demand, and the price follows.

MAK: Nice point G.  I want to get back to discussing our return to school.  I know we just got our school supplies, but there are plenty of people who still need to get them.  The shocker is that the National Retail Federation said that the average spend on supplies went up $60 to $850.  That’s a lot. It’s an average $60 more than last year.

GRANT: I know.  When you look at the fact lumber prices went up so much, it really makes sense.  Since paper is made of wood, you have to expect any note pads, paper for your printer, as well as your Number 2 pencil is going to cost more because it’s all made from wood.

MAK: Isn’t it strange how things are all connected? Let’s throw out some ideas to reduce that extra hit and keep our total spend down.  It’s been a tough year for a lot of people and no need to make it worse, right?

GRANT: You got that right.  Ok, we NEVER like impulse buys.  That’s simply spending money on the fly without thinking about it because it looks super cool.  All those slick ads make you think you’ll be super popular, jump higher, or make you think you can do something superhuman will make you WANT things, that you don’t NEED.  So, it’s time to create and prioritize what is absolutely necessary.  Sounds simple, right?

MAK: It does, but even if you make that list, it doesn’t mean you should buy everything on it. It’s BUDGET TIME.  Get your “Discipline” out of the closet, and let’s dust it off and make a budget.  I know that we both need shoes for sure, but we don’t necessarily need an entirely new wardrobe.  So, we have to live within our budget as the number one rule of becoming more financially well off is…

MAK/GRANT: Spend less than you make!! 

GRANT: Yep, no way to get ahead if you’re spending more than you have and going into BAD debt!! So, it makes a lot of sense to look at what you already have, and yes make a couple TOUGH decisions.  Take a walk into your closet and scan your clothes.  Ask yourself if you need to replace them.  Funny enough, it’s also the same with school supplies.

MAK: You got that right.  I found a couple of notebooks that I only used a couple of pages of notes on from last year.  Time to tear those used pages out, and VOILA I’ve got a NEW notebook I can use.  Strike that off the priority list.  It totally frees up some money for some other items.

GRANT: Nice one sis!  Speaking of some “gently used” items, we had to buy several books for our classes.  We get the privilege of reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” this year.  But, no need to buy it brand new. Hey, there are lots of used books that we can buy or RENT.  Yes, I said rent.  The internet is a wonderful place to save money.

MAK: That’s a great point.  Shop around, and use the world wide web.  Sounds obvious, but we’re looking to make our budget work.  You know what, I’d love to have a Troll Pencil Topper. When I’m bored, it can liven things up and make my day a little bit brighter. I’m not sure Dad will let that one pass through, without a bit of compromise.

GRANT: You’re absolutely right, he’ll be watching.  But, I love spinning those trolls by working the pencil between your hands.  Their hair goes everywhere.  I wouldn’t mind having a couple  cool erasers in my arsenal.  Hey, I kind of dig me a panda eraser everyone once in a while.  So, I need to find a bit of room in my budget too.

MAK: I think making the BS budget, that’s for Back to School, can be fun. It’s so much better than AGONIZING over it.  There is a lot of cool things to look forward to.  I think Mom would like to get us at least one outfit, so that’s a win.

GRANT: Hey, did you know that some states actually offer a “tax-free” weekend to buy school supplies.  Indiana doesn’t, but there were about 20 states that do.  Talk about simply saving money by being smart and using that to your advantage is a plus. So check online.

MAK: Let’s not forget coupons either. They’re not just for grandmas.  Saving money is always cool, no matter how.  So browse the paper, look online, and you can even find some great apps to help.  If you want to cut down the number of trips to different stores, make sure to find ones that….

GRANT: PRICE MATCH.  Yep, that’s a great idea.  For some people, they don’t feel comfortable asking for the match.  But, dad has no problem doing it.  He always says:


MAK: I think it’s funny when he says “2 seconds of asking puts $2 in your pocket. I think that is a great use of time” (in dad voice).  He’s right, but don’t tell him I said that.  I don’t want him getting a big head.

GRANT: Well, you can’t forget garage sales and thrift stores.  Remember, it’s time for sports and other things. If you can pick up a gently used lacrosse stick or other items that get beat up anyway, it makes sense.  Plus, the Dollar Store can be a real winner.

MAK: That is a good one G.  They definitely have a lot of stuff we DON’T need. But, if we stay focused, we can make a stop when getting groceries, because it’s next store. Then, we can save a nice chunk of change. Totally worth a couple of minutes, if we have a plan and a list.

GRANT: Remember “Shavings make a pile”.  That’s another dad-ism.  If you use the cheese grater to SHAVE some mozzarella for pizza, the first couple of swipes don’t make much, but as you continue, the pile gets bigger and bigger. It just takes time.  Sometimes longer if I have to taste test it along the way.  If we keep on track and save a little here and there, it all adds up like a pile of mozzarella money.  The bigger ticket items should be our focus, like clothes, books and maybe a computer, but don’t forget about the little stuff too! 

MAK: Sometimes waiting to buy clothes until September or October AFTER the rush, could save a bit of money too, because prices generally drop after the big SPEND.  Companies aren’t stupid. Hey, if your school offers a pre-packaged school supply kit, that could be good too. Saves you time, as we saw at our last school.  Mom said it worked great.  And, after she checked the prices, she was pleasantly surprised that it was a good deal.  So, let’s not forget that.

GRANT: Ok, I know this isn’t exactly about back to school, but it’s worth mentioning.  As we budget for the start of school, it’s worth budgeting for the rest of the year.  One big one is the number of school sports and activities.  Cutting down an activity or two could seriously save money.  Hey, with fees, instruments, and equipment, you could be talking $10k per year.  There is time to think about this more and focus on reducing costs, but maybe we can save that for another time.

MAK: Great point.  Well, I think we covered things pretty well.  I really hope we can make the whole year a face-to-face experience.  That would be really nice.  But, it’s out of our hands.  Thanks for being here, and we’ll see you soon for another episode of:

GRANT/MAK: Money with Mak & G.  Bye!!

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