Going back to school suggests it is the end of summer and the beginning of school supply sales, material lists from new teachers and classes, and long lines at school supply stores. Children disappointed by the finish of their summer vacation are encouraged with the purchase of new clothes, books and occasionally, treats and impulse buys.
American shoppers spend nearly $10 billion in family clothing stores to get ready for the back-to-school season. Families spend another $2-3 billion in bookstores during the same period. You may be wondering how you will be able to get everything your children need without getting into too much debt.
You are not alone. Here are some simple strategies you can follow to help you beat the back-to-school debt blues:
Don’t Buy Anything You Already Have
It is tempting to purchase all new school supplies for your children, regardless of whether or not you already have them at your home. For example, what kind of shape is your child’s backpack in? Is it ripped or can he/she use it again for the coming year? Just because your child wants a new backpack does not mean you must purchase one. Remember, you are teaching your child financial responsibility when you use what you have.
Look at your pens, pencils, erasers, folders, binders, clipboards, calculators, and anything else you receive on the supply list from your child’s school. If you can reuse or use something you already have, do so.
Spread Out Your Expenses
Review the supply list or the college needs list with your child. Purchase only those things that are most necessary to start the year. It is possible to spread out the purchase of supplies over a month or two (or longer). Check with your child’s teacher to see if they can bring one box of tissue on the first day of school and another box later in the year. Getting only those things that are essential to the first couple of weeks of school will help soften the “supply list” blow to your family’s finances.
Spend Only What You Have
As soon as you have determined what you must purchase for the first few weeks of school, set a budget and stick to it. Avoid using a credit card unless you need to make a larger purchase, such as a laptop computer or software program. Keep track of your total as you shop so you can eliminate impulse purchases and focus on getting the best deal possible. When the funds are gone, the shopping stops. It’s that simple.
Make Back-to-School a Great Experience for Everyone
By thinking creatively and limiting your spending to only what is necessary for the first couple weeks of school, you can spread out your back-to-school expenses throughout the year and stay out of debt.
Finally, open your child their first checking or savings account and teach them the value in budgeting and saving for their futures. It’s something you won’t regret. Plus, your child can get $10 when they open a new account during the month of August! Get more details at your local branch.