Back to School Money Basics

Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 7:44 AM CDT
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It's another record-breaking year when it comes to back to school shopping. The National Retail Federation says the average family will spend almost $700 in back to school shopping this year! That's the highest amount ever recorded. Financial professional Dale McCarty, President of Retirement Designers Financial Group has a few tips for parents to help kids learn some money basics about budgeting.

1. It's an exciting time for students – back to school! What can parents do to keep spending in line while they are out shopping with their kids?

- First, you can teach your child about the importance of proper budgeting, and even potentially save you some money along the way.

- Before you go to the store, try and set a budget for back-to-school shopping. Then, work along with your child to purchase all the items they might need. Help your kids track your spending while you're out shopping.

- By setting a price ceiling, you can even give your kids some choices to choose supplies or clothes & shoes they might want to splurge on.

Taking advantage of rewards programs through retailers can add up to more savings, especially if you have multiple kids.

2. Does shopping around really help?

- It can! Teach your kids to comparison shop and shop around. When you are at the store, compare prices there to online retailers to get the best price.

- Use your phone to help pull up prices on items, before it goes into the cart, to show your kids how much you can save.

- Another way to help show your kids the benefits of saving money, could be to let them buy a special treat or other item they might want, by using the money you may have saved while comparison shopping! This way, they can see how shopping smart can have real rewards.

3. Switching gears to students who are headed off to college very soon. What financial tips should parents keep in mind to help their older kids?

- Again, budgeting. For many students, this will be the first time they'll be on their own financially. They'll oversee their own money, without the day to day help of mom and dad most likely. That means many students will be learning how to manage their money at school.

- Consider all the extra expenses for food and fun, and of course books, etc. Those things can impact your bank account quickly.

- If you need help trying to figure out some of those college costs, we have a College Funding calculator on our website that can be helpful. Sometimes it can be hard to even know where to start or to estimate some of those costs, so we can help with that.

4. What about checking accounts and credit cards for the first-time college students?

- Setting up a checking account at a local bank can be a good idea especially if you're in another city. That could help you try and avoid things like ATM fees by out of network banks.

helping to get your student set up with a credit card that has a low balance could help establish credit and teach them some good basics of credit. Teach them the difference between needs and wants – charge what you need, and only things they can pay off at the end of the month.