Back to School Basics

The school bell will shortly chime but before it does, parents everywhere are faced with the chore of buying back to school items.  Here are a few tips to help you balance your books while keeping the kiddies happy.  

Review the provided school supply list and create a two column list.  Mark items “needed” and “wanted”.  List all items including school supplies, lunch box, back pack, kleenex, sneakers and clothes.

Remember that not everything needs to be bought on day #1.  Sneakers will continue to go on sale. Hopefully our beautiful summer weather will continue into September so the kids will most likely still be wearing their summer clothes. It’s not necessary to completely give them a new wardrobe immediately.

Reconsider your monthly income and expenses without the school expenses in the mix.  Then consider what are you willing to “give up” in order to afford the extra cost of the school expenses. If you are purchasing the items on credit, this same point should be considered on future monthly budgets. Something has to give. 

Research where to get the best deals for supplies. Do not assume that the known stationary stores provide the best prices. Dollar stores are great for the basics. Don’t forget to read the daily flyers.    

Refurbish school supplies from last school year. Can that pencil box/case from  two months ago be used again after its been thoroughly cleaned? What about the backpack or lunch box?  

Recreate cash for extra expenses. Look around your home/apartment for items that can be sold at a garage sale or on websites to generate extra cash. Get the kids involved and teach them a valuable lesson that cash is king not credit.

Reconsider keeping up with the Jones’s. As adults we can’t always get what we want. Kids need to learn this as well. Have a discussion with your children that everything can’t be new. Don’t be afraid to explain to them that it’s simply too expensive. Make them part of the decision making process. Perhaps a new book bag is more important to them on day #1 than a new lunch box. These small sacrifices add up in money and as part of a bigger life lesson.

Relax. By this time next week, the madness will be over.