As summer comes to an end, back-to-school is now the focus. And with that comes buying school clothes and supplies and enrolling in school activities or events. Unfortunately, the first few months of school can be downright costly. So follow these tips to prepare for a successful school year without going into debt:
· Take inventory of what you need. After reviewing your school lists, write down everything you need — clothing, supplies, event registration, and more. Then, look at what you have in your inventory at home. For example, Mary may not need four brand new half-inch binders as you may have some in good shape from the year before.
· Prioritize needs versus wants. Make a list of what you need to get right away and things you can put off for a few months. For instance, you may not need to buy pants or jackets for your children right away (especially if your child is likely to have a growth spurt).
· Use coupons where you can. Check your newspaper or online shopping apps for coupons and discount codes. Never pay full price if you don’t have to.
· Shop around and do your homework. Just because one store offers discounts on pens and paper doesn’t mean it’s the best price available.
· Pack lunches instead of buy. While it’s not always convenient, it’s usually less costly to pack lunches in a reusable, washable container than to have your children buy lunch every day. Plus, it’s probably a healthier option as well.
· Get your kids involved in the process. Whether they are just starting Kindergarten or entering their last year of high school, you can teach your children essential money management habits during this process. For example, if they’re old enough, you may give them a budget for clothes and supplies and let them do the research and calculate their expenses.
For children entering college, consider these additional tips to save money throughout the year:
· Shop around for books. One of the most significant expenses for any student at the beginning of a semester is buying books. Once you know the books needed, shop around. You can find new and used books online at many bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon. And order as early as possible so you can avoid higher shipping costs.
· Use coupons for dorm room needs. While this may not be lined paper or a stapler, you can use the same concept discussed above. Make a list of what you need, and then shop around for the best deal possible. You don’t need to spend top dollar on a dorm room trash can.
· Make saving money a priority. If your child plans to work at college, it’s a good idea to share simple ways to save money. Maybe start by saving $1 a week. While $1 may not ever amount to anything, the idea is to establish a habit. Once established, they can increase the amount.
Tip: Consider opening a LINQ Savings account for your student before leaving for college. It’s a great way to maximize savings with one of the highest rates around. Get details.
· Never share personal financial information. Many young people can be too trusting with their information, especially with their roommates. Just be sure your child doesn’t leave your home without understanding the dangers of sharing personal financial information online, over social media, in-person (leaving a wallet unlocked in a dorm room), or by telephone (including texting).
· Check the mail. Many young adults are not used to checking the mailbox for letters or bills. Ask your child to check the mail every day to ensure there is nothing critical or urgent.
· Use money management apps to save and stay out of debt. Open a Quail Creek checking account and use our mobile banking app to manage money 24/7 — deposit checks, transfer funds, check the balance, set up low balance alerts, and more. And if your child has one of our credit cards, payments can be made quickly and easily using the app as well. Download the app here.
Try this: With a Quail Creek checking account, you can save money as you spend it with our Q-Up Program. Connect a Quail Creek checking with a savings account, and each transaction is rounded up to the next dollar. Then, the “change” is transferred to the linked savings account. Over time, the spare change adds up. Get details.
Back-to-School, Not Back-to-Debt
Be wise in how you prepare for school and continue to spend throughout the year. Follow these guidelines to spend within your means and avoid using credit (if possible). Do your best to use what you have and focus only on the priorities you need throughout the year.
Learn more about ways to save for your future here.