Back-to-school time takes a toll on your budget if you aren’t prepared. Extra expenses add up and sticking to your plan can be difficult. You don’t have to do it alone, though. This is an ideal time to help your kids build budgeting skills. Here are a few ideas about how to use back-to-school time to teach kids about money:

Back-to-School ShoppingAfter deciding how much money you can afford to spend, give each child a budget.

While some things, like items on a school-issued supply list, aren’t negotiable there are other items that your kids can make their own decisions about. Make a list together of all their needs and add up the approximate cost of each item. Subtract that amount from your total budget.

Divide the leftover funds among your children. For example, you may decide that older kids should get a bigger share of the money.

Shop online.

When your kids identify their “must have” items, conduct a bit of research and see if you can find deals online. For high-end and name brand clothing and shoes, check eBay. They have new and gently used items for sale at a great discount.

Let older kids do some research on their own. Check out price-watching apps like Amazon Price Watch. They alert you when your item goes on sale. Before making a purchase, check for online coupon codes, as well. Apps like Honey and Retail Me Not scan the Internet looking for coupon codes and deliver them upon request.

Use envelopes.

Put the cash available to spend on back-to-school expenses in envelopes. When it’s gone, the shopping ends.

This helps kids understand exactly how much money they spend and how much they have left. Using debit and credit cards may be convenient, but it’s difficult to make the connection when spending money unless you can see how much is left in the envelope.

Encourage kids to stretch their budget.

If they must have an expensive pair of shoes, help kids figure out how to trim expenses in other areas.

  • Reuse last year’s backpack
  • Check the house for leftover school supplies from last year
  • Trade or share clothing with siblings
  • Wait until after school fall sales to buy

Starting a new school year is exciting for the whole family. Sticking to a budget is the best way to approach the situation. For an even better back-to-school shopping experience next year, start saving right away. Set aside a small amount of money from each paycheck, and encourage your kids to save for seasonal expenses, as well.

If you haven’t taken time to budget for this upcoming school year, you may consider a personal installment loan to help spread the costs out. A personal installment loan will let you make equal, monthly payments over a set term. Also, making on-time, in-full payments you can help build your credit.

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