It’s that time of year for students to start or return to school. Whether your children are entering kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school or college, there are a lot of emotions that are associated with this event. The problem starts with the money that is spent for this event. Especially, when your emotions are attached. When it comes to money, it is believed that the more your emotions are involved, the more you will spend on purchases. This year, it is expected that parents will spend approximately $697 on back-to-school shopping for their children in elementary through high school. For those in college, the amount is approximately $977. Is this amount exaggerated? If not, did you include this amount in your lifestyle plan?
Every year the cost of back-to-school shopping increases. Because this is an event that happens every year, being prepared for it will help reduce the stress that occurs during this time. By including this expense in your lifestyle plan, you can be prepared to make back-to-school purchases with cash and avoid the need to use credit cards.
To reduce the level of stress, Consolidated Credit has created a strategy to help with shopping for back-to-school purchases:
Step 1: Prioritization
Gather up all the class supply lists and then put together a list of all the clothing, electronics and extras that your children are convinced they need. Now start prioritizing those purchases.
Now rank your shopping list and only purchase what’s critical for the first month of school. For everything else, decide which month it will be best to purchase and adjust your shopping lists accordingly.
Step 2: Research
You need to do some research to ensure you get the best deal on everything you buy. Saving a few bucks here and there may not seem like a big deal, but it really adds up.
Here are some tips on how to research ways to save effectively:
Step 3: Planning
You need to take those discounts and deals that you found to create a strategic plan of attack for your shopping list. If deals are spread out around town, group them for several smaller trips or at least put them in order so you can make one clean sweep around town.
Also put a little planning into what you intend to buy in bulk. People think bulk shopping is the perfect way to save, but often you end up spending extra for too many of one item you never end up using before the end of the school year. In addition, if you bought in bulk last year you should make sure you don’t have some of what you purchased left over. If you do, take it off your list.
You should also resist the temptation to head out and shop simply to take advantage of a great sale. If you see a sale advertised and they’re promoting a better deal than what you found in your research, then adjust your plan. But don’t be tempted into shopping for things you don’t need simply to avoid missing out on a phenomenal deal. Just stick to your strategy and don’t deviate for any clever advertising.
Step 4: Realism
This is where you apply some practical reason to your shopping strategy. Your children are likely to want the world… or want at least as much as the next kid has. However, giving into every request is a good way to wind up with too much credit card debt at the end of the shopping season.
Make sure you take your children’s requests for specific items into consideration, but don’t buy to appease them at the expense of your financial stability. If they have a long list of electronics and/or special clothing they want, pick one or two items at most that work for your budget and work those in if you can.
If the items aren’t something you can afford with the extra burden of back-to-school shopping already on your budget, then prioritize those expenses for later months and let your kids know. Or (even better) ask your children to do extra chores to earn those items or use part of their allowance to pay for it.
Implementing a few of these strategies can make this year’s back-to-school event less stressful. With just a little bit of planning and preparing in advance, you can get this school year off to a great start.