Going back to school is an exciting time for kids, but parents dread the financial burden. Between school supplies, books, and new clothes, shopping for the upcoming month of August may seem overwhelming. We’re here to help relief some of that stress and remind you that you are in control of your finances. Here are some tips to help you feel better about the back-to-school shopping season:
- Check to see what you have at home first. Before hitting the stores, check the leftover supplies your child has from the previous year. You may realize there are more than enough pencils, pens, or folders to cover the upcoming school year. The same method can be used for clothes. While there’s nothing wrong with buying your child that “first-day-of-school” outfit, you want to be mindful of the clothes in their closet that still fit them. Once you’ve done an inventory of everything you have at home, you can then start creating a more accurate list to take shopping.
- Coupons and discounts can be lifesavers. Be sure to check online, or in magazines and newspapers for coupons or discounts that’ll help lighten your financial load when shopping. Also, if applicable, remind your child to bring their student ID because some stores may offer special in-store student discounts. Once you’ve reached the register, you’ll see that any little bit of savings helps!
- Make a list and set a budget. To avoid overspending, create a plan that you’ll stick to when it’s time to shop. Determine all the necessary supplies your child will need for the school year and designate an amount for each item. This way you can calculate how much spending you can do so you can prioritize your money and time. Also, be sure to let your kids know how much you’re willing to spend on certain items in order to avoid any frustrations while in the store.
- Don’t be afraid to buy generic products. Usually, you can buy, in bulk, a generic brand item for a cheaper price, than if you were to buy one single name-brand item for a more expensive price. Consider shopping at stores like the Dollar Tree, to buy items in bulk. If your child is convinced on buying the trendiest item, consider letting them use their own money to buy it. Them having to use their allowance or savings money will help teach them about costs and priorities.
- Decide whether to shop early or later. While it’s always a good idea to stay ahead of the game, great deals can also be found after school has started. Many retail stores give out deals and discounts after the fact, like Labor Day. Consider setting aside a few items on your list that you can wait to purchase and that your child may not need the first couple weeks or the first month of school.
- Talk with other parents to discuss savvy shopping habits. Remember you’re not alone. Check in with other parents to learn about any preferences they may have regarding certain stores to shop at or deals going on. Look into online discussion posts or Facebook groups that give insights on back-to-school shopping. Also, consider creating your own group and add parents whose kids attend the same school as your own. A little bit of teamwork goes a long way!
- Bring the kids along and make it a fun learning experience. This is a great time to get your kids involved with the money side of shopping, while having fun at the same time. Consider letting them physically hold the school list and let them check things off things as you shop. By watching how you make your way around the store, they will start to pick up on some healthy shopping habits. These shopping trips will help them learn more about budgeting and recognizing the difference between their wants and needs.
Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Before you know it, your child won’t have any more “first days of school” and you’ll want to go back to these special moments with them. Don’t let your finances get in the way of enjoying your kids. Just remember to stick to a budget and be smart with your spending!