2011-08-18 / Local & State

Budgeting For Back To School

It’s time once again to buy new school supplies, clothes and other necessities your kids need for the school year. This can be a big financial undertaking for many families, making back-to-school shopping a great opportunity to talk to your kids about important money management topics like budgeting and saving.

“This year our annual back-to-school survey found that only 15 percent of parents have created a back-toschool shopping budget with their child,” says Shelley Solheim, Director of Financial Education at Capital One. “Back-to-school shopping season is often overlooked as a financial education opportunity, but it’s an optimal time for parents to teach teens about budgets and smart spending in a realworld situation.”

Here are some tips to help you and your teen budget for back-to-school supplies:

Make it a family affair: Sit down and compile a list of supplies your child needs. Then see if you have any leftover supplies from last year, such as binders that can be re-used or glue sticks and crayons.

Do reconnaissance: In addition to contacting the school and visiting their website to find out what supplies your kids will need, consider talking to teachers and parents of older kids to find out what students actually need for each grade level.

Create a budget: Ask your teens how much they think is reasonable to spend on supplies. Then draft a list and price each item using the Internet or a mobile app. If you or your teen exceeds the projected estimate, work to divide the list into needs and wants, explaining why it’s important to prioritize.

Be flexible: If your teens really want those big-ticket items, work with them to find the money. They can find ways to cut costs by clipping coupons, looking for sales or buying used books. Any extra earnings can be put into a savings account, which lets families work towards savings goals together.

Parents can also help kids develop financial planning skills throughout the year, using methods and tools that resonate with them, such as online and video games. In fact, 76 percent of teens say educational video and online games are a good way to learn, according to the study from Capital One. One such tool is a new kid-friendly website, JA Finance Park Virtual, which tasks kids with meeting real-life needs, such as developing a budget, maintaining a household, supporting a family and pursuing a career through virtual simulation. To learn more, visit www.financepark.ja.org.

After all, 55 percent of teens said they want to learn more about money management skills, according to the study. So take advantage of this opportunity to begin talking to your kids about money today.

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