It seems that the summer just started and here you are getting ready to send your kiddos back to school. The stores have cleverly arranged their displays to entice your children to shop to their hearts’ content while the advertisers are making sure that they lure your children towards what are probably the most expensive products.
Companies are sending messages to your kids that, in order to be a “cool”, they have got have their product. So as parents, how can you manage what they need with what they want, and do it all within your budget?
First, go through the list of the items that your child “must have” that you were sent from the school. Are there items on the list that you have left over from last year and that you can still use? Do you really need all of the items listed in the quantities that are suggested? Prioritize the list by the supplies you must buy now and things that possibly could wait until later.
Often times, there are items on the list that the teacher wants for the use of the whole classroom, like Kleenex or baby wipes. If money is tight, you might speak with them and offer to send your contribution at a later date.
Next, you must decide how much you can afford to spend. Once you have that dollar amount in mind, let your child decide how they are going to divide it up. By doing this, you are giving them the control to make the decision on what to buy while staying within your budget.
This is something that every adult has to deal with and by teaching your children this lesson at a young age; you are better preparing them for the real world. They will learn how to prioritize what is important to them.
Maybe they would be happy with using the same backpack from last year because they really want the more expensive notebook. Or, maybe they’ll decide to reuse much of what they had from last year and put that money in savings. That’s okay too.
Give them many opportunities to practice this skill; shopping for clothes, at the grocery store, entertainment. By doing this, you are helping them become a more confident consumer, which could only lead to a more financially fit adult.
Jana Castanon is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Apprisen. Apprisen is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.