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Money Matters Blog

Monday, August 27, 2012

Making Back-to-School Shopping Fun and Educational

It’s that time of year again – a time that kids dread and some parents celebrate.  It is back-to-school season.

Part of the back-to-school season includes shopping for school supplies, clothes and other necessities.  Sometimes that shopping list can be a source of tension between parents and children. As kids wants to have the latest and greatest gear and clothes, parents are looking to save money.

This disparity provides parents an opportunity to use back-to-school shopping as a lesson to teach kids the differences between needs and wants as well as a lesson in saving money.

The following tips might help you out:

  •  - Buy only what you need: Most schools provide a list of supplies required for the school year.  By sticking to that list and not purchasing extra and possibly unnecessary items like locker organizers and fancy pens, you’ll save money.  Also, work together with your student to go down the list to see it they can re-use items from last year before buying new.
  •  - “Earn” the trendier items: While sticking to the list, there will probably be times where your student will have his or her eye on a more expensive brand name item, while you are looking at the less expensive generic version.  This provides a chance for your student to “earn” the higher priced item by paying the difference between the two, through allowance, chores or even from a job.  They may also take better care of an item they “bought” with their own money.
  •  - Shop around:  There are many sales for school supplies this time of year, which means you have the chance to shop around at more than one store.  Look at the circulars from various stores and supermarkets to plan your strategy.  Try to involve your student and turn this shopping adventure into a day you and your students can enjoy together.
  •  - Look online: Remember, there are plenty of shopping options online, you might be able to find some great deals without even leaving home.  You might even look to sites like or to buy gently used items..  Of course, buying online means you’ll need to leave time to have the supplies shipped to your house.
Back-to-school is a busy time of year for everyone and it can be stressful as kids change grades, teachers and even schools.  By taking your time and planning ahead, back-to-school shopping can add some fun to the last few weeks of summer.

Some additional information from Parenting magazine can be found here.

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