August brings the end of summer and the inevitable start of a new school year. Many parents dread the annual back to school shopping trip, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, it can be a teachable moment for your child.
Backpacks, notepaper, clothes, and school supplies are more varied than ever. There’s no need to pay a fortune for these things when you shop smart. Savvy consumers know that smart shopping goes beyond sticking to a budget, clipping coupons, looking for sales, and comparing prices.
Smart shopping also helps you teach your child. One way to do this is by having your child make a back-to-school shopping list. Ask your child’s school or teachers for a list of required supplies, and use it as the starting point for creating your own list together.
Teachable moment: Learning how to organize a task is a life skill your child will use over and over.
After listing the required items, ask your child if they have any “wants” to add to the list and prioritize them. Then negotiate through these extras.
Teachable moment: Work within a budget, set priorities, manage money and save for the items that don’t make it into the budget.
At this point the shopping list is still a work in progress. Take inventory of what you already have around the house. Locate last year’s notebooks, folders, and pencils to see if they can be used again instead of buying new ones.
Teachable moment: Determine which is more important, quality or cost. Recycling is also an option, especially if it covers a “want” that wouldn’t have otherwise been in the budget.
When it’s time to shop, draw on the shopping skills you have learned over the years and begin to model them for your child. Help your child decide when quality is more important than cost savings. Example: A backpack with a warranty costs more but is a good investment. On the other hand, math teachers advise that you don’t purchase a calculator with more functions than your child will use.
Teachable moment: Savvy shopping is worth the effort and can save a bundle of money.
Shop around and do your homework to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s at the lowest price.
Teachable moment: There are many different tools available to you to help you save money.
Technology is always a great way to engage children’s interest. Use your smartphone apps to scan barcodes to see if the item is at a fair price.
For more help with back-to-school spending or to start a general savings account for your child, contact R.I.A. FCU, visit us online or stop by any of our branches. We can help you develop a savings strategy.