Back to School Shopping Tips

3It’s back to school time, and many parents are roaming the aisles of stores around the country to buy new school supplies and clothes.  Although, this is an exciting time of year, it can also be very expensive. I saw the school supplies list for my goddaughter and I cringed. I couldn’t believe that my friend had to buy all of that stuff. I definitely don’t remember school shopping being that intense when I was a kid! If you are a little nervous about how to effectively shop, don’t worry because I will provide a few tips in this post to help guide you.

If you are going to go shopping the first thing that you need to do is to prepare before you shop. Take inventory of the stuff that you still have. If there is anything that you can reuse from the year before, then definitely do that. You may want to start the year off right with a fresh box of crayons, but do you need fresh everything?  Can you reuse the backpack from the previous year?  If you take inventory of what you have, then you can cross a few items off of the school supplies list before you even get to the store!  How is that for savings?

Once you get to the store, stick to the list. Back to school sales are all over the place, and the retailers know that parents take their kids to the stores to buy new clothes. Therefore, the retailers have also discounted items for the parents as well. I was talking to a friend of mine and she told me that her relative took her child school shopping, but ended up buying herself a ton of new clothes, because the sales were “too good to pass up.”  Although it may be tempting to indulge on yourself, ask yourself if you really need it.

So, once you have taken inventory and developed a list of what to buy, be sure to avoid splurging on name brands.  I say this for two major reasons. The first is that girls and boys will reach about 95% of their adult height between the ages of 15-16 and 17-18 respectively.  This means that each year your children will outgrow their clothes each year until they are in mid to late high school.  It’s expensive enough to worry about buying new clothes, but it’s even more expensive to replace designer clothes. Second, it’s sending the wrong message about what to value. For many parents, designer clothes have nothing to do with kids. It’s about the parents, because kids are viewed as an extension of the parent. When I was a kid and I couldn’t wear designer clothes because my parents couldn’t afford it, so I promised myself that when I had kids that they wouldn’t have to go through that. I looked at having kids as a way to right the things that I wished that I had growing up. However, that is not the right approach.

Jada Pinkett Smith recently said, “I want my kids to be happy, and I want them to be themselves. I was saying to a friend the other day, ‘Remember, our kids are not us.’  They’re not. Sometimes were trying to fix things that happened to us or projecting [onto them], and that’s a terrible, terrible trap.” I love this statement, because it gives parents permission to let kids be kids. Also, this can be used as a teachable moment to help to educate kids on the fact that the real value in back-to-school is going back to school. Consider, giving them a budget and encouraging them to spend it, which will force them to understand the concept of tradeoffs and spending money wisely. It will also allow them to be themselves. Although I’m not a parent yet, my optimistic hope is that this approach could lead to de-emphasizing the importance of name brand clothes, reduce bullying because of appearance, and put the focus where it needs to be – school.

Let me know how you plan to strategize your back to school shopping!

Aisha Taylor is a #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle”, and the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal). FNPhenomenal helps women to break the vicious cycle of making money, but not keeping it. FNPhenomenal provides education about money management, empowers women to take control of their lives, develop a healthier relationship with money, and pursue being phenomenal.

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