A Smart Back to School Shopping Plan

Saving, Saving Money

July 28, 2022

The sharp rise in the rate of inflation has likely taken a painful extra bite out of your household’s cash flow. Just about everything costs more, a whole lot more, than it did a year ago.

And those of you with school-aged children are about to head into the expensive “back to school” ritual. Whether it’s new clothes or computers, you’re likely gearing up to do some shopping with/for the kids. That’s typically a costly time in many households, but this year it comes with the added pressure of knowing your household spending is already stretched.

That makes it crucial to stand in the truth and hatch a spending plan that is built for the realities we all face right now with the high rate of inflation.

Give what you’ve got a fresh look. If clothes and shoes don’t fit, that’s one thing. But simply buying new clothes, supplies, backpacks, etc. because it’s a new school year is wasteful, and financially unnecessary. The more you can recycle for another year, the more money you will have to deal with all the rising costs you can’t avoid.

Make a shopping list. No impulse buys. This is always solid advice, but this year it is a must.

Needs only. This is not the year to buy any “wants.” Use this as a teachable moment. Once you and your child have your list of needs, go a step further and talk about how to limit the cost of a need: buying the less expensive brand, or the less tricked-out version of a computer. If you have a teen and they balk at this, this is where you lay down your limit and suggest they make up any difference with a part-time job. That’s not punishment. That’s a fantastic step in helping a child learn financial responsibility.

No leaning on BNPL. I am not a fan of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) deals when you land at the online checkout page. When you use BNPL you typically owe just 25% of the purchase cost upfront, with the rest due over the next six weeks. My problem is that when you pay just 25% upfront, it can make you think it’s okay to buy more. It’s not. If you can’t afford the full cost of something at checkout, that’s typically a sign it’s unaffordable.


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