Back to School

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Back to school brings lots of expenses – new clothes, new shoes, a new backpack and the growing list of school supplies. All this back to school shopping may feel like it will break the bank, but it’s rich in opportunities to teach your student about the value of a dollar.

Why not collaborate with your student and plan a back to school shopping trip that shines some light on just how far Mom and Dad’s hard-earned money goes? Get started by making a list of items that are needed to start the school year off right and set a budget.


Some ideas to help your student understand the value of a dollar might include:

  • Going through the Sunday sales ads together: Compare the price of the coolest new tennis shoes at local stores. Talk about the pros and cons of buying the most expensive tennis shoes compared to an equally cool, but less expensive, pair. There are several shopping apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone that can help you find the best deal on a specific item. Your student will likely be adept at maneuvering through the app and will appreciate the technology-based option for finding the best deal.
  • Identifying hidden expenses: As you plan your shopping trip, talk about all the hidden expenses that your student might not be thinking of. There’s always gas for the car, but also after trying on a bazillion pairs of jeans, lunch may be in order – another item that needs to be accounted for.
  • Asking Junior to chip in: Is there a special item your student wants for back-to-school? Maybe a special backpack or a fancier than necessary calculator? Ask them to help pay for part of it. This forces your student to decide what’s really important to him, hopefully placing a value on his money and not taking yours for granted.
  • Calculating how much money was saved: Take the savings to the bank and open a saving account for your child. This can help him learn about savings, interest and how to make deposits and withdrawals.


By giving your student insight into the bigger financial picture of typical back to school expenses you are creating a meaningful dialogue establishing that money matters. Ready to take it a step further? Build on this experience and make it an annual event by tracking how your back to school shopping list, budget and purchases change from year to year.