Not to stereotype, but being Mexican-American, we learn early on how to be resourceful and frugal. Even when we could afford to pay full-price for something, my parents always insisted on finding ways to pay less. Whether we clipped coupons, waited for a sale, or simply compromised by going with an off-brand, my parents always found a way to get us what we wanted and still save money. And during all that, they also managed to teach my sister and me how they did it; so as we became functioning adults, we, too, knew how to save our pennies for rainy days.
Consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc, Andrea Woroch, sees back-to-school shopping as the perfect time to teach kids lessons on money management. She says, “One of the biggest obstacles parents face during the back-to-school shopping rush is their kids’ desire for the latest-and-greatest products, including expensive items like the newest Apple device, designer jeans and name-brand sneakers. Since schedules fill up quickly this time of year, it’s tempting to save time and give into those pricey requests. But instead of letting this shopping craze get out of hand, consider it a great opportunity to teach your children about budgeting and saving.”
So instead of just maxing out your credit card and rushing through the ordeal of back-to-school shopping, take some time to be thoughtful and do yourself and your children a favor by showing them how they can get what they need and want without breaking the bank. Here are Woroch’s top seven lessons to learn from back-to-school shopping:
1. Establish a budget.
Once you receive the school supply list, sit down with your son or daughter to review items and separate the needs from the wants. Take inventory of what you already have at home and establish a budget for the missing supplies. If your kids protest about using last year’s supplies, point out the cushion their budget now has for use on items in their wish lists!
2. Set a savings goal.
If there’s something your child desperately wants like a new pair of Nike sneakers or Ugg boots, teach him or her how to set a savings goal. Offer to match their savings to pay for the “want,” assign money-making chores or encourage them to increase their babysitting or lawn care tasks to pull in more money. Demonstrating how money must be earned in order to fully finance a want is a wonderful lesson, and your kids may decide all their hard work is worth more than a pair of trendy shoes.
3. Source used options first.
If your son wants that Ninja Turtles backpack or your teenage daughter is requesting designer jeans, show him and her the less expensive options at consignment shops, and how much more a dollar can buy by scouting used over regular retail. In addition to secondhand stores in your community, introduce sites like ThredUp.com for like-new clothing and accessories at up to 90% savings.
4. Compare prices for the best deal.
The ShopSavvy app uses a barcode scanner to compare competitor prices for a specific good at both online and nearby brick-and-mortar retailers so you know the cheapest place to buy that item. Plus, everyone will have fun playing detective in the hunt for the lowest price! Encourage your child to request a price match from customer service, as most stores are willing to meet a competitor’s discount. Some stores like Staples will even go a step further, offering 110% price match guarantee.
5. Consider generic or store-brands for select items.
While shopping for supply basics, your kids may instantly reach for the Elmer’s brand of glue or FiveStar brand of notebook. This is a great time to point out the generic or store-brand versions of these products and demonstrate how much less the item costs for very little difference in appearance and utility. Reinforce that saving money on these supplies leaves extra room in the budget for more desireable purchases, like backpacks and apparel.
6. Use digital tools to enhance savings.
In addition to the comparison-shopping app referenced above, there are other digital tools your child can use to save money. For instance, Coupon Sherpa’s free coupon app lists deals to hundreds of stores for instant redemption, including 20% off at Sports Authority or 30% off at Aeropostale. The Savings Catcher tool on Walmart’s app is another great resource, offering cash back in the form of a gift card for products you purchase that are better priced elsewhere.
7. Boost budget by selling unwanted items.
In addition to saving money, teaching children how to earn money represents another great opportunity this time of year. If your kid is desirous of a pricey product, suggest selling clothes for consignment or trading in an old gadget or video game at sites like Glyde.com or Gazelle.com. Padding budgets is just as important and stretching them, and this is a great lesson in side hustles!