Back to School Without Breaking the Bank

Back to School Without Breaking the Bank

Itís that time of year again when summer winds down and both you and your kids gear up for back-to-school shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, families with school-age children spent an estimated $635.00 on back-to-school supplies,

Published Monday, August 11, 2014

It’s that time of year again when summer winds down and both you and your kids gear up for back-to-school shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, families with school-age children spent an estimated $635.00 on back-to-school supplies, clothing, shoes and electronics last year. That’s a lot of money. Before you take out a second mortgage to fund those expenses, consider some other, less drastic ways, to save money when shopping for school.

First, if you haven’t done it before, now is a perfect time to introduce your children to the importance of budgeting their money. Yes, their money. If it were just basic supplies, such as notebooks, pencils, erasers, and calculators on the list, it wouldn’t be too much. But let’s face it, kids will be kids, so add to that back-to-school wish list the latest fashions, the coolest backpacks, trendy lunchboxes and of course the top of the line electronic gadgets, and you’ve got yourself a list that could put you in the red until Christmas. This is where their money comes in. If they want the extras then explain how to budget finances so they are able to purchase those items that are on the want list and not on the need list.

There are many ways to encourage kids to manage their money for the special items they want. For example, if they want to buy new clothes for school, they must get rid of some of their old ones. Once they decide what to discard, take those items to a consignment shop, have a garage sale, or schedule a swap with friends and neighbors who also have unwanted kid’s items. This is a great way to earn money for new clothes or simply trade with others so everyone has new and different pieces to add to their wardrobe.

Typically, when kids have to spend their own money on what they want, they tend to be more careful about what they buy. After all, it’s easy to spend mom and dad’s hard-earned money but parting with their own is more difficult.

In addition to getting your kids to pitch in and help with back-to-school expenses, there are several other ways for you to save on the basic supplies. Here are just a few:

  1. Make a list. Be sure you have the list of supplies required by the school before you head out on your shopping trip. This will ensure you buy only what is needed instead of things your child won’t use.
  2. Comparison shop. Most every major retailer wants your back-to-school business so be sure to compare ads and circulars each week to see who has the best prices. Shop the dollar stores for basic items such as scissors, crayons, rulers, glue and erasers. Often you’ll find the same brands you pay more for at office supply or other chain stores.
  3. Clip coupons. Whether you find them in the newspaper, online, or in the store, coupons can save you a lot of money on many popular back-to-school items.
  4. Reuse what you can. If backpacks, binders, folders, pens and other supplies from last year are still in pretty good shape, use those first before buying everything brand new.
  5. Stock up. If you find some exceptional values on certain items, stock up for next year. That goes for end-of-season sale racks at clothing retailers, too. Next summer will be here before you know it so buying summer clothes on sale now in slightly bigger sizes means your child will have a new, affordable wardrobe next year.

Get creative, do your homework, and make sure your child participates in the financial part of the process. There’s no need for anyone to break the bank when it comes to back-to-school shopping.

Click on these links for more back-to-school budget ideas:

http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/calculators/calculate/backToSchoolBudget.php?calcCategory=budget

http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/personalfinance/savingspending/budgeting/backtoschool.php

http://couponing.about.com/od/apparelarticlesnews/a/backtoschool.htm

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