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The Back-to-School Period: How Parents Can Save Money


Fall is here, and the kids are back in school—which means it’s time to shop for school supplies and clothing, if you haven’t already. Any time you’re shopping for your children, you can use it as a teaching moment. With a little extra guidance, your kids will learn important back-to-school money saving tips. Who doesn’t love working a little financial education into their regular Target run?

Here are some tips to make back-to-school shopping easier and more educational than ever:

  • Make a list and check it twice: Your child’s school probably has a list of the supplies they’ll need, based on grade level. Grab that list and have your child help you make an inventory of which supplies (like backpacks, pencil cases, binders and more) from last year are still usable.
  • Teach your kids about needs versus wants: This is also a good opportunity to teach your kids about how to differentiate between what they need and what they want. Of course everyone wants the 96-count box of Crayolas and a 75-page sticker book—but do they actually need it for class? Probably not. There might be whining, but at least you’ll know you taught them an important life lesson.
  • Shop the sales: The key to getting great deals is to shop the sales. Once you’ve decided what you need to buy for the school year, you can enlist your children to help you spot sales in weekly ads or at the store.
  • Visit multiple stores for better deals: Don’t just shop at one store, unless you’re so pressed for time that there’s no other option. If you want to save money, strategically shop for the best deals at any given store.
  • Give your kids a budget: One great way to teach your kids about how to stretch a dollar is to give them a budget for their school supplies, then ask them to come up with a way to get all their supplies with that money. Hand them ads, coupons and circulars to help them research how much things cost. Not only does this give them some control over their own experience, it also teaches valuable math and budgeting skills. It’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate how marketing can affect cost—for example, branded items always cost more. If they really want that Pokémon backpack, where can they cut costs to afford it?
  • Decide what can wait: Not every school item has to be purchased at the outset—although if there’s a sale that’s too good to pass up, by all means, go ahead. Once you have your full list of what you need to buy, see what can wait. Maybe the kids don’t need their winter coat in September.
  • If all else fails, shop solo: Finally, if your kids are making it harder (and more expensive) than it needs to be, do the shopping yourself. If nothing else, it’ll go a lot faster.

For more money-saving back-to-school tips, and for general financial wellness tips and services, visit OUR Credit Union today.

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