Friday, August 7, 2015

Smart Savings for Smart Kids: How to Back-to-School Shop the Smart Way

Preparing for back-to-school shopping can seem minor in comparison to Christmas shopping, but parents easily spend hundreds of dollars preparing their child for the school year. How can you get your kids prepared for the school year and stay on budget? Read below for smart spending tips for back-to-school shopping.

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Take an Inventory: Before you dash to the store, keep in mind that the best place for back-to-school shopping may be in your own house. Check to see what your child can reuse for the school year.

Tips for Clothes: Work the double duty of back-to-school shopping and organizing your child’s closet. Go through everything, and make piles for tossing anything with holes and stains, donating or handing down what doesn’t fit, and of items to mend. Make a list of what basics and how many of each item your child needs. An alternative to donating clothing is to hold a clothing swap with 6-10 other families with similar aged kids, which can be an easy way to get new clothes and is an excuse to socialize. Despite what your child thinks, they won’t need a brand new wardrobe. Dresses and tanks can be layered with warm-weather clothing, and a closet full of basics will make mixing and matching much easier.

Tips for Supplies: Check your house for excess collections of classroom supplies. It’s likely that they can reuse rulers, calculators, and compasses, and can gather markers, pencils, pens, or paper for their school supplies list.

Tips for Storage: Backpacks, sports bags, and lunch bags suffer heavier wear and tear than clothing and supplies. Determine if they only need a major washing and mending or if a new one is necessary. Amazon and discount department stores have excellent selections at inexpensive prices.

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Set a Budget: Once you separate what you have from what you need, set a steadfast budget. This will make the greatest difference in savings, and will prevent you from overspending. Involve your kids in this step to help them learn to spend smartly. Itemize your list of necessities on a whiteboard, and they can visualize if they want to spend more on the latest designer sneakers or on a printed backpack.

Develop a Strategy: To get the best deals, employ a variety of smart savings tactics. Keep track of sales, use coupons, rewards points, and savings apps. Check flyers and coupons for price matching so you can save on gas money, as well. You can even shop online for many back-to-school deals and utilize comparison shopping and free shipping deals to get the best bang for your bucks.

Buy in Bulk: Shopping at Costco and Sam’s Club for supplies can help save you a bundle down the road. Another benefit? Your child will have a stash of extra pencils and paper to use for the rest of the year.

What’s Necessary Now? A pro-tip to keep in mind: Determine what your child needs the first week of school, and then wait until after the rush of back-to-school spending. Killer deals on school supplies start as early as the middle of September.

While you are shopping with your kids, keep in mind that is a great time to teach some valuable smart spending tips. Help them to stick to the supply list. Let them spot price differences between items. Have them determine what’s a want and what’s a need.

Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union also offers fantastic resources for you to practice smart savings and will be proactive in helping your kids develop excellent savings and spending habits. Our Financial Education resources can help develop your child’s first savings accounts whether they are preparing to buy a bike, car, or college tuition. Smart spending habits can start in the back-to-school shopping aisle.

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