Back to School and Financial Basics – Nancy Chapman, AFC©, COMPASS Mentor
Fall is approaching and many of us are preparing for children to return to school. Before starting out the door or jumping on the computer to stock up on new clothes, backpacks, and school supplies I encourage you to take five basic steps:
Have a fashion show. Determine what clothing still fits and what is ready to be donated or discarded. This could also be great time to host a clothing swap with friends and neighbors. Create a list of what still needs to be bought.
Have a scavenger hunt. Search out schools supplies from the drawers, closets, and cupboards in your home, gathering them all in one place. Compare your existing supplies with any lists provided by your child’s school. Write down anything you still need to purchase.
Look at your spending plan. How much money can you put towards back-to-school shopping?
Make the most of your money. Many states have “tax free” shopping days in August to help parents out. Just google “tax free days + your state”. Comparison shop different retailers for what you need online before purchasing either online or in person. Often local USOs, military family support centers, Operation Homefront, etc. provide outreach in the form of backpacks and school supplies for military families. Keep your eye out for these programs via Facebook pages and Base/Post newspapers.
Involve your child(ren) along the way! Depending on their age they can help you discover what is needed, write the shopping lists, comparison shop, or even make decisions on which items to buy with your guidance.
We can all benefit from periodically revisiting the basics: distinguishing between needs and wants (sneakers that fit vs. the latest Nike™ sneakers), creating a shopping list (controlled spending), have a spending plan (budgeting for regular and periodic expenses), getting the most for your money (comparison shopping), and teaching your child(ren) about finances.