How to help your teen stay within budget while school shopping

As school approaches, young adults should be smart consumers in order to stay within their budget. Here are some tips to help youth and adults while school shopping.

How to help your teen stay within budget while school shopping

As the school year approaches, teens are bombarded with ads to buy new school stuff. That barrage of marketing may come with a collective groan from kids as the signal of summer coming to an end. There may also be an echo from you, as a parent, trying to budget that expense. The ads encourage teens to purchase the latest fashions, technology and school gear. Yet, overspending could be costly to the household that is on a tight budget.

Michigan State University Extension has a few tips that can help keep you and your teen stay on budget or just save more money and feel better about the start of the school year. At least you won’t fear it financially.

Teens are targeted

Point out and acknowledge the types of advertising companies are using to target teens. Many large retailers use celebrities or spokespersons to pitch products. Artists, sports stars and such will often speak of the value of the product. However, that does not mean it is right for you. They also try to influence youth they need “this” particular product in order to fit in. Somehow this will make their life so much easier and they will be accepted or not rejected. It’s what the cool kids are wearing, using or doing, so if you don’t have I won’t fit in.

Don’t fall into this trap! Be aware of what is coming at you and who is sending the message. Ask yourself why they think you need it. Do research on the products before and find what best fits your needs and your wallet.

Set a budget and a plan

Know the items you need for the upcoming school year. Make a list of these items and start doing your homework on the best prices of these items or where you can find them. Have a plan before you set out to shop and try to stick with that plan. If your teen really wants a particular item, like the latest shoes, have them find or raise the money to purchase that specialty item.

I second that!

Don’t rule out secondhand stores or thrift shops. Some items like pencils, notebooks, folders, and clothing can be slightly used and work just fine. Plus, check with local schools for some of these items. Teachers and administration often have leftover binders, calculators and other school-related materials from the previous school year. They might give them out free!

24 or more

Wait! Really, try to wait 24 hours before you make a purchase that was not on your budget. Too often we make impulse purchases while in the shopping mode or we such a great deal we can’t pass it up. Waiting and thinking about it for a day might let that “crazy good deal” or “I have to have it!” feeling subside. If the feeling is still strong, then you can go back and buy it if you have budgeted for it. If it is outside the budget, have your teen raise the money to purchase it themselves. That should curb any impulse buying.

Wait! There is more

You may also want to wait until after the start of the school year to find out what materials and equipment you will need and to look for even better bargains. Often, youth are entering a new class or school with a new teacher. Some instructors may vary on what type of calculator, notebook or folders you should use. You may want to develop your school shopping plan after the first few days to see what they recommend or what you can get by with. You may request a list of the materials you will need for class prior to the start. Some schools and instructors provide this.

The start of the school year is an exciting time. Your youngster is embarking on a new path of knowledge within the halls of academia, but it can start even before they enter the school. You have the opportunity to educate them on being good consumers and smart shoppers. Take the time to talk with them and shop with them and show them good spending habits. It’s amazing what they will pick up and continue on throughout life. The lessons they learn will make their financial future easier and brighter. It will be easier for your budget too.

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