Teach your kids how to budget and prioritize

Most parents spend a good amount of time each year getting their children ready for school, yet many never prepare their child for a financially independent life. Combining back to school shopping with a financial education provides an excellent opportunity to prepare them for their financial future.

One of the reasons college students are notoriously ‘broke’ is that no one has really taught them how to deal with their finances or reinforced positive spending habits. In this article, we’ll go over some of the ways you can make sure that by the time your child needs to deal with his or her own money, they are ready to do so.
Before you start your back to school shopping, invite your kids to be involved in the planning process. The following are some tips to plan and budget for your back to school preparation.

Budget.  The first step in planning your back to school shopping boils down to a single question:  How much do you want to spend and what can you afford?  Be honest with yourself.  With your child, determine how much you can spend without making sacrifices or going into debt. 

Many expenses are not thought about until you are out shopping.  Be sure to think through all the costs carefully and write the expenses down.  Set a specific dollar amount that you want to spend and develop a plan to start saving for the investment in school supplies.  Have your child participate in the savings plan by doing extra chores or doing other work that will allow them to contribute. 

Comparison Shopping.  Each year it seems the cost of school supplies and clothes increases.  Ensuring your family is able to pick up all the needed supplies within your budget may take some time, but putting some effort into research will pay off.  Search online, watch for deals; consider what you can reuse.  Start this process early and take advantage of early-bird discounts.  Being knowledgeable and prepared might help you come in below your budget. 

Family Involvement. Not only will your kids feel more invested if you let them help, but back to school planning also provides an excellent opportunity to teach them valuable lessons about money.  Involve your kids in all aspects of the planning, including the economics.  Use this time to teach them important life skills like budgeting, savings, and research.  As a side benefit, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when together you have successfully completed this family project.  

By following these tips your back to school shopping adventure is sure to be a success.  They will have learned how to make financial decisions, picked up the supplies they need and have gained the skills they will need in the real world. • 

Trevor Stoll is the Operations Director for the National Financial Educators Council and contributor to the Framework for Teaching Personal finance. Learn more about the NFEC at www.FinancialEducatorsCouncil.org 


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