It’s that time of the year again! Time to get the kids back in the school routine and make sure they have everything they need for a successful school year. Although back to school shopping can be expensive and stressful, this can be reduced by planning ahead and making smart decisions.
The first step to making back to school shopping easy is to plan ahead and start saving early. Even if it is only a few dollars each paycheck, every little bit helps. Make sure you are placing those funds in a separate account so you don’t accidentally use it throughout the year, and consider setting up an automatic transfer each paycheck so you don’t even realize the money is gone.
Find/Make a Shopping List
The next step is to find your school’s back to school shopping list so you know what items they require for their students. Use this to find lightly used items in your house that could be reused this year. To make it fun for your kids, consider having a contest to see who can find the most items off the list. You could also get crafty and have the kids spend an afternoon decorating their notebooks/binders/folders so they look fresh and new.
Make a Budget
After you determine which supplies you already have, use the remainder of the list to put together a budget. Write down the estimate cost and quantity of each item. If they are school requirements, they are necessities. Make sure to write down these items first and keep them separate from the “wants”.
Ask your kids what sports/activities they might be interested in this school year. This will help you determine what equipment they might need and when they will need it. If they need it now, put it in your budget. If they won’t need it for a few months, look for sales instead of purchasing it at full price right away. Also, consider finding lightly used equipment at garage sales, online resale websites, Facebook groups, etc.
Teach Money Basics
As your necessities come together and your kids start discussing their “wants”, set a budget for them so they know how much they can spend. Use the budget as a way to teach them about money. If they have already reached their limit, but they still want that new backpack, work with them to determine how they can make it happen. If they want the backpack more than they want some of the other things on their list, have them eliminate some other items so they have enough money to get the backpack.
Use Cards and Apps Wisely
Finally, take advantage of your credit cards and apps that reward you for shopping. Instead of using cash for your purchases, use your rewards credit card to earn points that can be used later. Make sure you are not going over budget, though. Only spend what you can afford. Also, find apps that allow you to scan your receipts and earn cashback on your purchases. Although you aren’t using it for your back to school shopping, you can use it for your summer vacation or next year’s school shopping.
If you want to be rewarded for your school shopping purchases, but do not currently have a rewards credit card, contact a member service representative at U of I Community Credit Union or visit our credit card page here to learn more.