Back To School Shopping: Use It To Teach Kids About Money

You will soon be preparing your children to go back to school. Americans will spend $68 billion during this year’s back-to-school season, including back-to-college, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s an average of $630 per family for school-age kids and $899 for families with college-bound students.

Back-to-school shopping, like all shopping, is a teachable moment for kids and money, and they have an interest in the outcomes since they are the ones who have to carry the backpacks and wear the clothes they have chosen for the upcoming year. That’s why including some money lessons is worthwhile.

Here are 3 money lessons your kids can learn during the back-to-school frenzy:

Lesson 1: Understanding Needs vs. Wants

Most adults end up in debt because of the lack of self-control while shopping. What better time to address the concepts of “needs” and “wants” than during this back-to-school season. Sit down with your child to review the school shopping list and separate supplies into categories of “needs” and “wants”, explaining the difference. Your child can take an inventory of what they already have at home and make a list of missing items.

Lesson 2: Create a back to school budget, or spending plan

Decide on a set amount your child can spend on back to school clothes and supplies. This is especially great for parents who are tired of either constantly saying “no” or “(sigh) alright.” Once the budget or spending plan is set, it’s up to your child to decide what’s most important to him/her. In this case, the internet can help, ask your child to search for the items’ prices online, to avoid surprises while in the store. Budgeting, or planning, is also a good way to help the child prioritize what they really need vs. what they just want at the moment. Then you’ll see some smart spending.

Lesson 3: Charity

When you’re out shopping for fun new back to school items, remind your kids to”Think” about how excited they are to have new backpacks, pencils and notebooks. And that they could put a smile on the face of a poor child, too. By:

  • Participating in a community fund raising.
  • Donating from their allowance to a charity.
  • Sharing some of their cloths and school items with kids in need.

“Remember we’re not raising kids, we’re raising future adults who will soon take over the country’s economy.”