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Hands-On Business Fun

04 Feb

Managing A Budget: Back-To-School Style

Posted by Carolyn Enenstein

We're back with ways to incorporate Bizainy Business into your summer fun. School is just around the corner, and involving your kids and teens in Back-To-School shopping is a great way to share time while building responsible budgeting habits and an appreciation for the value of a dollar. (See our recent Bizainy Summer Fun postings: Savvy Shopping Steps and Lemonade Stand Inspiration)

Back-To-School Savings

From a 64 pack of crayons to cool new kicks to the latest backpack to the perfect hoodie... did you know that combined Back-To-School and College spending will reach $83.8 billion, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays?1 With over 28,128 available family clothing stores, 25,448 shoe stores and 8,144 office supply and stationery stores, the Back-To-School Savings options and spending can seem overwhelming.2 The average American family spends upwards of $688.62 per child on Back-To-School products.1 You can use Back-To-School as an opportunity to spark a discussion with your kids and teens about appreciating how much items cost and managing their spending with a budget.

  • Enable Your Kids To Manage Their Back To School Shopping- While it can be so easy for us to make all of the Back-To-School purchases online while the kids are at bay, (done!) involve your kids of all ages in the shopping process so they feel empowered for a future of responsible spending. Start building money management skills today!
  • Planned Purchases Versus Impulse Buys- Help your children appreciate that not every child has the privilege of returning to school with a new backpack, shoes and clothes for the first day of school.  If your backpack is in good condition and your sneakers still fit, could you spiffy them up and continue to use them rather than buying new ones this school year?  Beyond your list of required school supplies to purchase for school, plan what you really need to buy (planned purchases) versus what you might consider purchasing on the fly (impulse buys).  Those sushi-shaped erasers at the check-out register sure are adorable...but do you really want to buy them? 
  • Time Is Money- Do your kids have any idea how much various items cost in the real-world?  Do you know the price of a quart of milk or a three ring binder?  The Schwab MoneyWise® Teens and Money Survey found that "Teens are not entirely clear on the cost of basic items. More teens know exactly what an iPod® costs than exactly what a gallon of milk or their cell phone bill costs."3 Enable your kids to understand the value of goods and services.  Make the connection between how much their desired Back-To-School shoes costs, and how many hours they would have to work at a lemonade stand, household chores or a teen job to earn the funds to pay for their desired purchase. Understanding everyday prices and the value of hard work can help kids develop a greater appreciation for your tremendous efforts to provide for them, too.
  • Set A Budget- Empower your kids to successfully manage a budget.  Many teachers provide a list of school supplies to purchase for the first day of school. Review this list with your children, and have them research prices for each item and sum up the total list.  Set a budget for the maximum amount you wish to spend on your school supplies.
  • Stick To The Budget- Go shopping together and have your kids sift through the options to make their selections.  Task them with shopping within the budget.  (be sure to put their value shopping skills from our last blog to work, to maximize savings) Introduce the concept of a Budget versus Actuals.  A budget provides spending limits, but the actuals indicate how much you actually spent.  Did they come in under budget?  How did your kids ensure that they stayed within budget?  Did they feel in control of their spending process?
  • Reinforce Budgeting Habits- We encourage parents to reinforce their children's efforts to live within an established budget.  Help your kids own the sense of accomplishment from setting themselves on a course of responsible financial habits.  You can consider matching the money they save and put it in their bank accounts. 
  • Donate Gently Used Supplies- Now that your kids hopefully appreciate how expensive their school supplies are, allow them to experience the joy of donating their outgrown clothes, toys and books to other children who can really use them.

From playing sports to learning an instrument, universally it's understood that practice makes perfect! Use this philosophy to help your children develop and practice budgeting and money management skills. Your children may be just budgeting for a backpack today...but tomorrow it could be a house. Use Back-To-School shopping to build a solid foundation now and watch your kids grow into financially responsible adults! Ready, Set, Shop! 

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1.     "Back-to-School Spending Grows as Parents Restock, Replenish Children's Needs." National Retail Federation. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

2.     "Facts for Features: Back to School: 2013-2014." Newsroom. U.S Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.

3.     "2011 Teens & Money Survey." Schwab MoneyWise®N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.