It's that time of year again when back to school is top of mind with parents and kids alike. Back to school shopping, on the other hand has grown into big business. Retailers are starting earlier each year, with plenty of ads to entice us to buy. The message is out there, loud and clear - we'll help you spend your money. For many of us, our kids have outgrown last year's wardrobe and with a new school season already here, how can we say no or pass up a good deal? But wait a minute; do you have a plan? Know what you need? Know how much you intend on spending?
The average family with school age children will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, according to research from the National Retail Federation. This is a lot of money, given that these monies will come out of your September budget. It's time for a strategy and plan.
Every parent on the planet wants to give their kids the best of everything. But sometimes we just can't afford it and have to stick to a predefined spending plan or budget. While shopping with your kids you will want to avoid the shopping tantrum- the parental meltdown when your kids try to encourage you to buy the latest "gotta have it" item. Keep your cool. Don't cave in, which is the easy way out. Hold your ground. Kids are smart and they will figure out how to get what they want if you cave in. We want to make our kids happy but sometimes we can be teaching them the wrong strategies when we give in to their wants and spend outside of our budgets.
To start you can engage children 7 and older in the buying process that starts with taking an inventory of what they have in their cupboard. Gather up clothes that no longer fit and give them to a neighbor or charity.
Next, spend to your budget and with sound reasoning, let your kids know how to make knowledge based decisions. It will build their self esteem and confidence. A good example of decision making is grounded in needs vs wants. Your kids will do just fine with a $9.00 pair of jeans versus the latest designer jeans that can sell upwards of $70.00.
Here are some strategies that are simple to use and follow:
1. Make a list. Fill your list with what you kids need. This will help you stay focused when shopping and avoid any shopping "gotta have it" items.
2. Make a budget. Account for your spending in your budget. Set aside money for back to school shopping.
3. Manage your time. Plan your shopping time; consider shopping online. Don't waste time lining up at stores. Your time is valuable.
4. Pay cash. Don't use your credit card unless you can pay off your balance next month in full. Remember to track your spending. Keep receipts in an envelope and make sure to add them up.
5. Park your emotions. Try not to get emotionally attached to something and lose your judgement. Your kids will benefit from learning how to manage their emotions too while shopping.
The back to school period can be stressful enough for any parent. You want to transition with ease, and what better way to kick start the process then to manage the back to school shopping period. You will set yourself and your kids on the right path and teach them good strategies. You will be ready to handle the next big shopping period which is the Black Friday shopping week in November.
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