Planning is the best way to get the most for your time and money. And when it comes to back to school spending, the goal is often to do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible. While it may seem too soon to start thinking about back to school shopping, it is right around the corner. Planning now will save you later.
Take a Look at What You Usually Spend
Take a look at your bank and credit card statements for the past few years to assess how much you usually spend. This information will help you set a budget for your children this year. Remember that school materials and supplies should be included in the budget along with clothing.
Take a Look at Your Current Budget
It’s quite possible that your financial situation is different than it was last year. Take a look at your current budget. How much can you afford to spend on back to school shopping this year? You may be able to spend more or you may have to spend less.
Additionally, knowing how much you spent last year can help you make good budgeting decisions this year. For example, if you know you spent $300 last year and can only afford $200 this year, you may be able to shift a few things in your monthly budget to find that extra $100.
Make a List of What You Need
How much have your children grown? What clothing do they need and what do they want? Make a list of the items they need and start prioritizing. Ask your children to get involved in this process. They can try last year’s clothing on and let you know which items they want to keep and which items are no longer appropriate.
What Stores Will You Visit?
As it gets closer to that inevitable shopping day, consider taking your child to thrift stores. Many used clothing stores sell brand name items that are in ideal condition. If your children are brand conscious, they may enjoy being able to purchase more for their money while still looking cool.
Give Them Cash
One of the best ways to stick to your budget and your shopping plan is to hand the budgeted amount to each child. Children have a tendency to go overboard when they’re shopping. They find that one brand name sweatshirt and spend half of their budget on it. Then they cry a few weeks later when they’re forced to wear the same shirt over and over again. They make much smarter buying decisions when they get to hold the cash in their hand. They tend to want to get more for their money – it almost becomes a game for them.
Decide when to Go
Finally, set the date. You can save a lot of money if you go school shopping about a month after school starts. Items go on sale and children are able to buy what the cool kids are wearing at school at a much lower price. If they absolutely must have a new outfit for school, then buy one outfit for that first day and then commit to taking them shopping in a few weeks when things go on sale.