I can’t believe it, but school is already back in session for some and will be soon for the rest.  This means it is time to stock up on those schools supplies: pencils, notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes, and all of the other essentials.   Kids usually have an opinion on the color of their notebooks, the style of their backpacks and the types of pencils they get.  This is the perfect opportunity to involve them not only in choosing color and style but being aware of the costs.

I’m a huge propionate of using every opportunity to teach kids about money so why not use this opportunity to teach them to work within a budget.

Create a List Discuss the things your child needs for back to school.  Have them write out the list.  Help them categorize what’s absolutely necessary and what would be nice to have. (Learn to clarify those wants and needs.)

Set a Budget Decide on the amount of money you’re willing to spend on their school supplies.  Tell your child it’s their goal to get the items on their list with the amount of money you’ve determined.

Go Shopping Look at ads together, talk about what stores you’ll go to, and create a shopping plan together.  When you’re shopping let them make the decisions.  Based on their age, you can provide some coaching to help them remember to leave enough money to get all of the necessary items.  If they go for a more expensive choice in one area help them understand they may have to sacrifice something else.  (Try not to get too involved, though, let them make the decisions.)

Review When you’re all done, look at all the items together and tally up the costs.  How’d they do?  Did they get everything they needed?  Did they have to make sacrifices on other things to get something they really wanted?  Talk about their decision process with them.  Would they have done anything different?  What did they learn?

The more you can involve your child in making purchasing decisions (especially when it involves them) and discuss the process together, the more prepared they will be to handle money on their own.  So go, have fun, and don’t just shop for your child, shop with them!