Smart (Back-to) School Shopping for Young Families

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If you’ve got kids heading to school you know that it can be an expensive time of the year. Spending hundreds of dollars to get them ready to enter (or reenter) the hallowed halls can happen in the blink of an eye.

To stop this annual ritual from wrecking your finances, consider these timely tips:

  • Check your spending motivation. This is especially important when your children are really young and haven’t yet figured out what “designer” means. While you might get some satisfaction from your child sporting really nice (and more expensive) clothes, shoes, backpacks, etc., your kid and their classmates likely couldn’t care less. Keep this in mind and you can probably save yourself some money.
  • Spread it out. Most parents would agree you’ll need to buy your children things for school. But there’s nothing that says you need to buy it all at once. In fact, spreading out your purchases can sometimes save you money. It gives you the flexibility to take advantage of sales when they happen and can also mean being able to pay with cash rather than having to resort to credit cards.
  • Don’t spend big money for potentially small use. Kids change. They get bigger, they outgrow things and their interests evolve – not to mention their unfortunate propensity to lose and break things. Put that all together and you may wonder if it ever makes sense to spend a lot of money on something for a child. Remember this as you decide between the nice, reasonably priced item and the nicer, more expensive one.
  • Have a plan. One of the nice points about the need to buy school stuff is that it’s not a surprise. This means you’ve got lots of time to save up for it and develop a plan – both of which can help get you through the season with minimal or no financial damage. 

If you’ve got kids going to school soon, there’s little doubt that you’ll be spending some money. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to spend less.