How to Include Your Kids in Back to School and Avoid DebtJul 19, 2018
When back to school time rolls around, it can be hard for parents to cut back on spending. With new supplies, trends in clothing, and technology adding temptations for your child, sometimes this season can end in debt regret.
The statistics bear out that late summer is getting more expensive for parents. In 2017, Canadians spent double on school supplies when compared to the previous year: $883 compared to $450, according to a RetailMeNot study. If you’re trying to reign in your spending instead of adding to it, a starting point may be to start involving your child in the shopping process.
By having open conversation with your child about personal finance and money, you can help them understand that the “bank of mom and dad” is finite. During back to school, there’s only so much money to spend, and sometimes there needs to be priorities set. While kids can’t fire back with ways to get help with debt, they can be understanding of these types of situations. You can also start the conversation on how to prioritize, by helping your child sort their “wants” and “needs”.
A good financial learning lesson could be to bring your kids with you while back-to-school shopping, but let them do their own spending, using cash. When an item is added to the cart, calculate with them how much they have left before running out. You can also challenge them to spend less than the budget given. Motivate them by allowing them to keep half of the left over money so they can buy the things they didn’t get now, later.
At certain ages, kids can go through supplies quickly if they’re not careful — parents can also use this time to stress why taking care of binders and bookbags can help them get more of their “wants” next year.
For more tips on involving your child, financial writer Barry Choi talks about lunchbox ideas, affordable fashion, and re-using supplies in this post on Money We Have. Using these pieces of advice can be the difference between seeking debt relief options in the fall and sticking to your spending plan during back to school.
Learn more about steering clear of back-to-school debt with this podcast, as BDO Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) talk about how planning ahead can limit spending.