or not, Labor Day is a few weeks away, which means so is
another school year.
time around, turn shopping for clothes, colored pencils
and such for class into a chance to offer children and
teens some tips about money management, bargain hunting
and personal style.
are some conversation starters to try as you head to the
mall with the budding academics in your life:
Get kids involved early on
surfing the Web for apparel and supplies once the kids
are snuggled in bed sounds like a more serene approach
to back-to-school shopping, but it’s a missed
opportunity to teach young ones about savvy shopping.
Have a school supply list? Task children with seeing how
many of the items they can find at home and what things
they’ll need to buy.
a nice way to get them to think about reusing,"
says Deborah Gilboa, a clinical associate professor at
the University of Pittsburgh medical school. She also is
the author of a new book, "Get the Behavior You
Want ... Without Being the Parent You Hate!," which
is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes &
them survey their closets to see what fits, what doesn’t,
what still looks good and what can be downgraded to play
clothes or donated. Once clothes are categorized into
these piles, talk with kids about their choices.
Establish a budget
Set a budget from the start — and let kids know it
savings needs should determine your spending," says
Gene Natali Jr., co-author of "The Missing
Semester," a financial guide geared toward
inspiring young adult readers to take control of their
financial futures. "We’re surrounded by constant
temptation, but you want to have a budget and you want
that amount to be determined by your savings
don’t feel pressured to set the same limits for each
child, Dr. Gilboa says. Maybe one kid had a growth spurt
and needs more clothes than another, for instance, or
perhaps an older sibling needs a netbook for typing term
"don’t have to justify that," she says.
Distinguish wants from needs
commercials call "school essentials"
oftentimes aren’t must-haves. Map out before stepping
foot in the store what are needs and what would be nice
to have only if money is left over. If below budget,
consider keeping the money instead of splurging on
something extra, and talk to children and teens about
strategies for saving money.
is opportunity," Natali says, meaning that the
sooner people start to save the more opportunities they’ll
have to provide for the future.
Set parameters for personal style — and stick with
common for kids and adults to disagree about clothes.
are expressing individuality by pushing against their
family and moving toward their peers," Dr. Gilboa
says, especially for middle school and early high
school-aged students. This is normal, she adds.
rather than viewing this as rebellion, give them the
chance to explore their style sense and tap into some
trends with a few boundaries. For example, let them know
they’re free to pick out whatever looks they want, as
long as they don’t sport vulgar messages or images,
are below a certain price and don’t show too much
skin. But let anything else that follows such guidelines
be fair game — even if it’s an outfit Mom or Dad
Share bargain-hunting skills
the thrill of finding fashions for reduced prices to any
age. Younger kids can help clip coupons and give adults
a stack to sort through. On the receipt, show them how
much money was saved because of the coupons they found,
Dr. Gilboa says. Similarly, ask adolescents to browse
the Internet for potential deals.
Reference shopping apps for assistance
tap into children’s investigating skills by having
them help search for mobile apps that can lend a hand
with shopping. A few apps to consider: Amazon Student
(scan book barcodes from school lists to find bargain
books), RetailMeNot (discover discounts for a range of
items), Mint.com’s money management feature (organize
and track budgets and spending), Key Ring (create and
share shopping lists among multiple mobile devices), and
Kidizen (buy and sell gently used children’s clothes).
Think about shopping as a bonding experience
what is needed and getting back home quickly often is
the goal for most families. But instead of trying to
wrap things up at record speeds, treat the outing as a
bonding experience. As children — particularly
adolescents — pick out and try on clothes, use it as a
chance to learn about their interests, trend tastes, and
concerns about their body image and fitting into their
school’s social circles.
shopping is "not just looking for school clothes
but mining for a little bit more information about our
kids," Dr. Gilboa says.