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Tips For Shopping For School

University of Minnesota Extension

Back-to-school shopping can be an exciting time for children and a potentially stressful time for parents. Given increased costs for groceries, gas and heating, family budgets may be very strained. Back-to-school shopping can be a great opportunity to teach children money management and consumer decision-making skills.

Consider the following helpful tips as your family plans for the new school year.

Obtain a list of required school supplies from your child’s school and become familiar with any dress codes. Determine what usable school supplies you might have available at home. You may have enough leftover notebooks, glue sticks and pencils from previous years.

With your child, go through closets and dressers. Try on clothes to see what still fits. Donate unusable clothes to family, friends, second-hand stores and coat drives.

With the assistance of your child compile a list of the clothing, accessories and school supplies needed. Be sure to include items such as eyeglasses, shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes.

Decide on an appropriate amount to spend on each child. This amount can be determined by the amount of money available in savings, current funds on hand and how much you might be comfortable charging.

Estimate the total expenses for the items currently on your

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list. If you are over your budget, look for places to trim. Together with your child, set priorities. Youth will often be more satisfi ed with the results if they are involved in the decisions.

If there is a particular item a child “must have,” help him/her adjust the budget elsewhere. Include the children in decisions about what purchases are most important.

Families may want to consider having the child be responsible for covering a portion of the costs. It will teach how to stick to a budget.

Take advantage of other resources, such as hand-me-down clothing from friends and relatives. Check out garage sales and thrift stores, and teach sewing skills to mend or alter clothing.

Compare prices and quality to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Check newspapers, circulars and websites for sales. Clip coupons for extra savings. Carefully choose your shopping destination, recognizing that shopping near home can save on gas.

Whenever possible, pay with cash. If you must charge items, try to pay off charges within a few months to avoid excess fi-nance fees.

– Sara Croymans is a family resource management educator

with University of Minnesota Extension.

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