School is almost back in gear

Parents are jumping for joy at the thought of sending their children back to school and no longer having to entertain them during the long summer break. There is, however, one more hurdle to overcome – back-to-school shopping, the yearly trek to the department store where the battle between what’s affordable and what’s fashionable happens. This year, try using back-to-school shopping as a lesson in money management for your kids.

Shopping starts at home

Many times, families have clothes and school supplies from the previous year with a lot of life left. Get your kids to gather all the unused items from prior years and take inventory of what can be reused and what can be donated. This is a good lesson in both finance and being charitable to others.

Preparation is key

Like any valuable education lesson, preparation is the key to success. When it comes to back-to-school shopping, you can prepare by doing a little research both online and through print ads to find the best deals. Let the kiddos help out by comparing the cost of items across multiple stores. They may be amazed to learn that the same item can cost more at one shop than another! A little research can lead to big savings and help you set a budget prior to going shopping.

A lesson in budgeting

Bring the kids along on your shopping trip, and make sure they pay attention to the price of each item. This may discourage the little trendsetters from purchasing the latest fashions and encourage them to opt for something more affordable. Incentivize them to stick to a specific budget by allowing them to keep the leftover balance if they choose affordable items and come in under budget after all items are purchased.

Patience is a virtue

It pays to be patient when finding the best deals. Toward the end of summer is the best time to buy t-shirts and other summer items, which may be on clearance. It’s also cheaper to wait until the end of the fall season to purchase sweaters and colder weather items. Teaching your children the importance of waiting to find a good deal is vital and can help to avoid impulse shopping along with buyer’s remorse later in life (some of us are still learning this lesson).

Starting early instills lifelong positive behaviors

Children start to develop an opinion about money at a very young age, so it’s important to mold positive financial behaviors early. Back-to-school shopping is the perfect opportunity to do so, whether you kid is in elementary school or headed off to college.

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