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Tips and Tools for Going Back to School

Alivia McAtee

Alivia McAtee

Staff Writer

8 min. read

Summer is coming to a close and kids everywhere are heading back to school. Whether you’re sending little ones down the street or college students across the state or country, it can be a stressful time. We did our homework and rounded up some resources and recommendations to help you ease back into school year life. 

Math Class: Back to School, By the Numbers

  • 76 million: Number of students in the U.S. enrolled in school in 2017 (Pre-K through college)
  • 43%: Percentage of parents who feel pressured to overspend on back-to-school shopping
  • $696.70: Average amount families plan to spend on back-to-school shopping
  • 94%: Percentage of teachers who spend nearly $500 of their own money on classroom supplies

For the Little Ones 

Technology is here to help, if you want it.

As millennials become parents (aka parennials), many struggle to find a balance between work, family, and technology. Going back to school means everyone in the family is about to get even busier. 

To help out, companies are releasing technology and services aimed at saving you time and money. From subscription services to smart socks, parents have lots of tools they can take advantage of.  

Of course, you don’t need technology to raise your kid. Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University, author of “Expecting Better and Cribsheet,” and a parennial herself, said it’s “very important to think about what you want your parenting life to be like, and what will make this easier for you.”

5 Things to Know Before Buying the New Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition

The rainbow-colored edition of the Echo Dot comes ready to interact with little kids (for example, answers to questions tend to be more educational, and interactions sometimes have an emphasis on politeness). It also comes set up with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, which includes kid-friendly entertainment. 

The Echo Dot Kids Edition could entertain your kids while you’re working from home, or it could even help them with their homework

The Best Slime of 2019

You know what they say about all work and no play. Keep back-to-school fun with this old-fashioned extracurricular. 

We consulted with two scientists and three kid testers to find the best slime on the market. You could even make this an educational activity – our review includes the history and science behind slime. Fun fact: slime is a non-Newtonian fluid. 

Off to College 

6 Ways College Students Can Save

College students aren’t known for their wealth and means, so we put together a list of tips to help students save dollars where they can. From secondhand textbooks to student discounts, there are some simple and effective ways to stretch a college dollar further.

How to Get Cheap Car Insurance For Your Student

If your student is driving to school or bringing their car with them to college, you definitely want to make sure they’re covered if anything goes wrong. 

We recommend you start by comparing car insurance quotes, but it’s important to understand that many insurance companies will charge higher rates for young drivers. However, many companies also offer discounts for students who won’t be driving much or who have a track record of being good drivers and/or students. 

How to Start Building Credit For Your Kid

It’s never too late to start building credit, but college-bound kids are likely going to be making some big financial decisions and could stand to start getting serious about credit. 

If your student will be applying for a student loan, help them learn about the different types of loans and best practices for paying them off. That way, you’re both more comfortable when it comes to signing the dotted line (especially if you plan to co-sign). 

How to Choose a Credit Card if You Have Little, No, or Bad Credit

College students looking for their first credit card may have more options than they think. Cash back cards can help them earn rewards on everyday purchases while building their credit. Secured cards can also be a great option to build creditworthiness. 

Search for Scholarships on the Best Platforms

College costs are on the rise and many families rely on a combination of loans, financial aid, and scholarships to cover the bill. 

These dedicated scholarship search platform compile thousands of active scholarships and match you to them based on your unique qualifications. Save your energy for the essays. 

Back-To-School Deals

  • Amazon Music Unlimited – Prime Student members can get unlimited music streaming for less than $1 a month. And while they’re at it, they might need a solid pair of noise-canceling headphones to listen to all of that music, too. 
  • 50 Student Discounts from The Simple Dollar 
  • For students living off campus, furniture rentals can make move in a breeze. Full-service furniture renting starts at $100 per month from CORT, or Brook Furniture Rental offers room-by-room packages (like a kitchen setup for $45/month). 
  • Skip the dining hall and get ready-to-cook meals delivered to you. Everyplate and Dinnerly offer budget-friendly options that are way better than ramen.
  • Even textbooks are joining the services revolution. Cengage Unlimited includes access to textbooks, online classes, and specials. 

What It All Means 

Going back to school can be harder on some people than others. With the cost of school supplies rising, some parents – and teachers – are struggling to make sure students have everything they need to succeed. 

You may have seen #clearthelists circulating on social media. It’s a campaign to help teachers check things off their back-to-school shopping lists so they can focus on teaching our kids. To learn more and to donate, check out DonorsChoose.org

Walgreens is also joining in on the cause. A portion of the proceeds from certain products will help get schools the tools and resources they need. You can learn more about it on Walgreens’ website. 

Oh, and parents: don’t worry – you’ve got this. 

You’ve just read the latest edition of Magnified, our newsletter for those who want to dig a bit deeper into the services we review.

Here’s a look at what we’ve done in the past:

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