Back to School 

Practical ways to teach folks about money are the best. Back-to-school shopping is the perfect opportunity. Many of us are doing a good job on this, but let’s look at some great ideas to help tweak things.

Needs vs Wants- In the battle for the best back-to-school treasures ¾ of parents and teens say they have had the discussion about what the student NEEDS versus what they WANT. Then about half make a list to keep the shopping focused. Between sales and discount stores you can get more for less when you have a good list and everyone understands the priorities.

Budget- Let the kinds know how much you can spend. Then involve the kids in making a budget. Start by going online with them and looking up the prices of the list of needs and wants. Make a big chart. One author suggested a white board so everyone can see, and just write it all down. No comments, no guilt trips. This is a teaching exercise as much as it is making a budget. Several things come from this open discussion. First, if they want more money they may still have time to earn some in chores or outside work for Nana and Grandpa, babysitting, even a toy yard sale. Second, they can begin deciding the most important elements to their happiness and work their brains around the cheaper options for less important items. Don’t make money be an emotional topic. Don’t hide real life from your kids. Help them see how grownups work these real life issues out with this experience.

Reduce – Reuse – You have to decide how much kids really need and what you can afford. In addition you can scour the house for good stuff. Mixing old stuff with new is great for the environment and your pocketbook. Taking that further, try vintage and retro shops for cool clothes.

Plan for 2014- If planning like this is new, there could be a few bumps. But next year could go even better. One survey found that about twenty percent of parents save a portion of any tax return they receive specifically for school shopping in the fall. Other parents encourage the summer yard sale so kids think about increasing the shopping budget with their own cash.

Setting priorities is part of life and applies to our time and our money. This is as real as real life gets. Though we are better when it comes to school shopping and budgeting parents are not having money talks year-round with kids according to studies. I’m hoping we can improve that this year!


Needs vs wants –

Budget –

What’s already here-,0,17301.story

Next year-,0,17301.story


Marion Syversen, MBA



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