Back-to-school shopping: What parents need to learn before burning wallet

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By: Good Nelly
on 2nd Aug,2017

Now it is time to start packing for your kids with all new clothes and school supplies. Get to know how you can shop within your budget and how to teach money management skills to your children.
Back-to-school financing doesn't have to be hard: What parents need to learn before burning wallet
“The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought, and so broadens the mind.” - T. T. Munger

Whoa! Summer vacation is almost over. Now it's time to start packing for your kids with all new clothes and school supplies.

As per National Retail Federation (NRF), the families with K-12 children plan to spend an average of about $673.57 on back-to-school shopping, precisely on school supplies along with accessories, apparel, electronics, and shoes. Last year, the average spending was about $630.36.

The survey also states that the families with children in college plan to spend an average of $888.71 on shopping, which is slightly down from last year (about $899.18). But, total spending is expected to increase - from $43.1 billion last year to about $48.5 billion in 2016.

Here's some more statistics on this topic which you can go through:

stat on Parents say they will spend
stat on As per survey, K-12 consumers plan to spend

So, it can be said that back-to-school shopping can be a little hefty task for parents. But you can tackle it with little practice and tricks.

Stephanie Nelson, founder of the website, said, "We can definitely save money by buying supplies on our own because we probably won't give in to impulse buys."

Most of the parents feel a stretch in their pocket to get ready with all the necessities before the school re-opens at the end of summer.

Here are some strategies to help you understand how you can happily meet your children's needs and make them happy without burning wallet.

1 Draw up a budget and follow

To do list:

  • Make a list based on what you already have - Take a close look at what you already have in your closet and try to make a list according to your needs. Thus, you can set a budget for your shopping list and can stop yourself from impulsive buying. You can also trim your spending as well.
  • Put money in separate envelopes for two-three kids - If you're a parent of two or three children, then try to allot a certain amount of money for each and put the money in separate envelopes. Thus, your children can understand how to buy things following a budget. Sometimes, having cash is better to understand how much money is already gone and how much can be spent on other things.
  • Check out last year's shopping transactions to get an idea - You can check your last year shopping transactions and credit card statements to get an idea about your recent budget. Take a challenge to cut back your spending on items as per your budget. Kim Danger, a frugal author said, "The exact budget will vary from family to family. You just need to spend within your means."

2 Be a smart shopper to reduce cost

To do list:

  • Search for tax-free school items - You can find tax-free school related items in late summer. Try to grab those items to save some money on back-to-school shopping. If you're lucky, you can purchase tax-free school supplies, as some states allow these days. Try to visit early when the sale starts to buy good things. Check online if your state has a tax-free sales holiday.
  • Purchase items on clearance for next year - Wait a while to stock up things for next year. You can easily wait till mid-September to buy winter items (sweaters and corduroy pants). Try to pack things which the children will need on the first day of their school such as a backpack, lunchbox and crayons. You can also trim your back-to-school cost by late shopping when the shopping rush is finally over for the year. You can buy items with surprisingly low price as every retail shop is ready to sell supplies on clearance. Try to recollect things for next year and stock up item with low price!
  • Buy supplies from local stores - Give value to your local store to purchase supplies for a low rate. You can buy uniforms for your kids from a yard sale and consignment shops also. Even you can find discount school uniform if you search online. Moreover, try to avoid last minute shopping rush as most of the traders tend to charge a sky - high price for customers who visit them late to buy seasonal items. If listing items is a tough task for you and your child's school has not provided a shopping list, then ask your child's assigned teacher to tell you what items are needed.

3 Get benefited from your child's bank account

To do list:

  • Open a children's bank account- Do you know about the educational benefit of children's bank account? Yes, some banks offer an educational package for children account holders to meet their needs. Some banks have children accounts scheme to help parents survive with back-to-school expenses.
  • Opt for children's schemes - Some banks (FirstBank, KidsFirst) have certain schemes for children account to meet tuition or education cost.
  • Obtain loans for schooling cost if needed - Some banks (Access Bank) have products like Early Savers Account, which offer loans for school cost along with other benefits.

4 Deal with extracurricular activities cost wisely

To do list:

  • Consider renting instead of buying - Consider renting before buying sports items as you are not sure about your kid's interest in sports. So, before investing hundreds of dollars on uniforms, team pictures, transportation and equipment, try to consider renting or buying used staffs. You may check Craigslist to get second-hand items at low price.
  • Think before buying musical instruments - Your children's school may introduce music class as an additional class. Don't purchase the instrument early. If your child is performing in a band or chorus and he/she needs a specific dress code, then try to buy the items on sale.

Some more helpful tips you need to know

  • Try to visit your local county health center to get your kid's vaccinations. Sometimes, you can get free or discount on this.
  • Try to visit your local county health center to get your kid's vaccinations. Sometimes, you can get a discount or at absolutely free of cost.
  • Compare the cost of books before purchasing them.
  • If you join school fundraising organizations such as Electronic Scrip and Schoolpop, then as a member, you can take advantage of some percentage of your funds from the participating retailer or service provider.
  • Try to provide lunch for your kids to avoid pricey cafeteria foods. It is also a healthier alternative.
  • Ask your teenage kids to do part time or home based work to meet their tuition fees or other schooling expenses.
  • Encourage your college kids to get summer jobs to earn some extra money. Thus they can easily afford more things. It will also be a valuable addition to their resume too.
  • Ask your college girl or boy to leave the car at home. Thus they can avoid long day parking fees and service charge.

Use the opportunity to teach your kids money lessons

Back-to-school is a great opportunity to introduce your kids to money management lessons.

Forbes says Kids have to understand that they don't need the latest and the greatest.”

You don't have to wait till your child goes to the high school to teach money management skills; you can very well start doing it right from when they're toddlers.

How to do it? Here's how…

  • Search for good deals - Often the stores have good deals but hide them in different aisles. You can ask your kids to find these deals. Doing so, they'll learn that if they're not careful, they might miss good deals to save money.
  • Teach them how to make price comparison - Talk to your children about the prices of items you're thinking to purchase and discuss how you're making the price comparison. For example, discuss with them how to compare price between store brands and name brands.
  • Plan a budget and an incentive to stick to it - One of the best ways to teach older children money management is to plan a budget and tell them that they'll get an incentive if they stick to it. Moreover, when they understand that it's their money, they become more economical.
  • Introduce 50/20/30 rule for budgeting - This is an extension of the previous tip. When your kids have learned to budget, you can allot a certain amount of pocket money and ask them to manage money following 50/20/30 rule. Your child should use 50% of the allotted amount to buy the essentials, 20% to save and 30% to use on personal items such as paying phone bills, having coffee, and so on.

Back-to-school also involves separation anxiety, especially for the toddlers. So, it's important that you prepare yourself and your children both mentally and physically to deal with it. This way, they can look forward to going to school and share their experiences with you, every day.

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