One of the biggest challenges to postconsumers is the challenge of learning to budget. After all, many of us are coming down this road because we fell into the trap of thinking that we always had to have “more” in order to be happy, and that meant spending as though we always were going to need “more.” Many Americans struggle with keeping a budget, and back-to-school time can be one of the hardest times to keep a budget of any time in the year (the holidays are obviously more difficult!). Here are some tips for keeping your back-to-school budget in check.
Decide What You (or Your Child) Really Needs: We’ll start by making two lists. The first list is for the items that you (or your child) absolutely need before school starts. This list doesn’t need to be just practical. Sometimes getting your kid the newest fashion is important to their back-to-school success. But we all know that not everything we want is what we need, so make the first list of only things that are absolutely needed.
Decide What You (or Your Child) Would Also Like: There are also things that you (or your child) would obviously want before heading back to school but don’t absolutely need. Make a list of these things as well.
Decide How Much You’d Need to Spend: Now do some research online and figure out how much you’d need to spend in order to buy all of the things on your lists. Then look at your savings and available cash (stay away from the credit cards) and decide what would be a reasonable amount to spend, that you can afford without creating debt. From there, you can figure out how many things on your “must have” list and how many things on your “would like to have” list you can afford. If you’re shopping for your kids, you can all sit down together and figure out what needs to come off (or be put on) the list.
Stick to the List! By which we really mean stick to the budget. As you know, once you get into the stores, you and your kids will surely find all sorts of other items that you need or want for school time. However, if something gets added to the list, something else then needs to come off.
The hardest part of sticking to your back-to-school budget will be having to tell your child “no.” We all want our children to have everything that they want. However, teaching your child about budgeting and how to not overspend is one of the most important lessons that you can give him or her. And as they learn that they don’t need every piece of “stuff” they see in order to be happy, you’ll be raising a child who has an easier time finding the satisfaction of enough!