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How to Financially Prepare for the New School Year

As the summer draws to a close, the excitement of back-to-school season fills the air, signaling a time for anticipation, preparation, and the joy of fresh school supplies. However, the allure of shiny new-fangled items can lead to overspending and can put a strain on your wallet. At Service Credit Union, we believe that teaching children healthy spending habits is crucial for their financial future. So, how can you strike a balance between fulfilling your kids’ desires and being mindful of your financial wellbeing? The answer lies in turning your back-to-school shopping into an invaluable teachable moment for cultivating money-smart habits in your children.

Set a Budget and Involve Your Kids

The first step in promoting money-wise shopping for your kids is to work on setting your back-to-school shopping budget together. Before heading out, gather the school supply lists and research prices online to establish a target budget. Engage your children in open conversations about how much you and your family can realistically spend on school supplies. This empowers them to understand the value of budgeting and the importance of staying within limits.

Emphasize Needs vs. Wants

With the budget set in place, seize the opportunity to teach your kids the distinction between needs and wants. Categorize the school supply list into necessities and extras. Encourage them to go through last year’s supplies to see if they have reusable items. Explain that using existing supplies not only frees up funds for other purchases but also helps the environment.

Saving and Earning Opportunities

Before embarking on your shopping journey, discuss the significance of saving with your kids. Explain that staying under budget allows them to save extra money for future needs or goals. Introduce them to the idea of opening a savings account and let them brainstorm savings goals. Additionally, explore the concept of earning opportunities through allowances or chores, emphasizing the value of working towards desired items and financial independence.

Comparison Shopping and Rewards Points

With a budget in hand and a shopping list categorized by needs and wants, introduce your kids to the world of comparison shopping. Show them how to research prices online or look for digital or newspaper coupons. Visit different stores to find the best deals and teach them to consider factors such as quantity, price and value. Explain that although an item may seem like a “need,” it can easily become a “want” purchase if you choose a trendy option over practicality and price. For example, a 20-pack of markers may cost $4.99, but the price can jump to $14.99 if they are the fancy scented version.

Additionally, don’t forget to research any back-to-school reward points deals offered by credit card providers. Some card providers, including Service Credit Union, offer rotating bonus rewards points or other incentives on purchases in specific categories, such as back-to-school shopping. By teaching your kids to be savvy shoppers, you can help them save money and instill a habit of making informed and thoughtful choices with their purchases.

Time for Checkout and the Post-Shopping Conversation

At checkout, reinforce the earlier discussions about saving money and budgeting. Encourage each child to pay for their items individually, providing them with firsthand experience of the transaction process. In case they go over budget, use this moment to reiterate the importance of adhering to the budget and give them the option to explore alternatives such as selecting a different item, removing something from the cart, or using allowances or chores to cover the difference.  

After the shopping is complete, gather for a family meal and discuss the entire shopping experience together. Offer praise for making wise choices and sticking to the budget while providing encouragement and support if they exceed it. This post-shopping conversation offers an excellent opportunity to initiate regular money discussions with your kids, laying the foundation for financial responsibility and independence as they grow. 

At Service Credit Union, we believe that financial education starts early, and we are committed to helping you raise money-smart kids. Our collaboration extends to schools, where we offer an interactive Bite of Reality fair tailored for grades 7-12. 

By involving your children in the back-to-school shopping process and teaching them essential money-smart habits, you are setting them on a path to financial independence and responsibility. Our Financial Wellness Resources page offers a wealth of information and tools to support your family’s financial journey. 

Together, let’s empower the next generation with crucial financial knowledge and skills for a brighter future. We are here to support you every step of the way. Happy back-to-school shopping!