Ah, it’s back-to-school time. It’s that time of year when parents see the light at the end of the “I’m bored and there’s nothing to do” tunnel. However, before we get there, we must navigate the latest trends and high price tags of back-to-school shopping. School supply lists get longer and longer and trendy clothes get more expensive every year; if you’re not careful, you could find yourself spending too much on too little.
Before you begin your back-to-school shopping, make a plan that includes separate budgets for supplies and clothes. Understand exactly what you need. Your child may have outgrown everything and you need to buy a new wardrobe, or you may be lucky and only have to buy a few new items. Additionally, keep in mind that September often still feels like summer and your child may not want to wear those fall clothes yet, so you may be able to put off buying clothes for a month when they’re cheaper.
Having a plan and a budget will help you keep from overspending on your back-to-school shopping. Here are a few tips to help along the way.
Back-to-school shopping is the perfect opportunity to teach your child about budgeting. Determine how much you were planning to spend on his or her clothes and give your child the cash and a list of what’s needed: five shirts, four pairs of pants, underwear, sneakers, etc. If your child is old enough, drop him or her off at the mall or store and let the buying begin. If your child is younger, offer some guidance but leave the decisions up to him or her. Tell your child that if he or she goes over budget that the difference will be deducted from future allowances. That’s a surefire way to make sure the budget sticks!
You may want to consider doing next year’s shopping right after school starts this year. You can get a list for the grade your child will be going into next year and get as much as you can this year on clearance. Supply lists typically don’t change much from year to year.
With a solid plan and careful budgeting, your back-to-school shopping doesn’t need to break the bank. You can get your children everything they need to start the school year off right.