Friday, September 2, 2011

Use Back-to-School Shopping to Celebrate Saving

It's the final few days before Canadian kids head back to the grind. On one hand, I'm cheering for all the kid-free hours I'm going to get back. At the same time, I'm weeping for all the money I'm supposed to spend to mark my triumphant return to Freedomville.

At least, I was weeping. Today, I've come up with a plan to ease the pain of this expensive season and that plan is to throw a little education of my own into the mix.

I'm planning to get more bang per buck by giving my daughter a money lesson. I'm going to show her how to save money when you have to spend it. And I'm going to use back-to-school shopping to show her how it's done.

Make a list
My daughter is going into grade three and for the first time she is going to have her own desk where she can keep her own school supplies. Up until now we have purchased the school's package of supplies because they have always been pooled for the whole class to share. This has meant that back-to-school shopping has been limited to clothes, a back pack and lunch bag.

This year we are taking it up a notch. We are going to choose and purchase school supplies on our own with the aid of our handy supply list. Along with that list, we are making a list of clothing and other supplies that she thinks she will need for the first few months of school.

Budget wants and needs
Once we have our list, we are going to talk about how much money Mom has to spend for back-to-school stuff. Then, we are going to arrange the supplies in order: mandatory items at the top, wants at the bottom. I have set aside a certain amount of money to spend with a twist. I have promised my daughter that any money we have left over will be hers to put in the bank and save.

Have a temperate shopping spree
Armed with the idea that any leftover cash is hers to keep, we will hit the stores, the discount stores. Knowing that we live in a low interest rate environment (and may be doing so for a very long time) it's critical that I teach my daughter the importance of saving today's money so that it will grow for tomorrow. This incentive will help shape discussions about her choices as they arise during our spree.

When she picks up a notebook with a funky design that costs $2 more than a plain one, I can smoothly remind her that the extra $2 could be hers if she makes the thrifty choice. The same goes for clothing. Is there really a difference between $25 gym shoes and $50 gym shoes? Very little, unless your child has special footwear needs.

Eat ice-cream and celebrate the joy of saving
Hopefully, at the end of our shopping spree, there will be at a few dollars left for her to put in the bank. If there is, we will make a big deal out of it. I will count out the amount in cash down to the penny, hand it to her in a special envelope and then we will go to the bank to deposit it during the first week of school. I may even offer a bonus of a few percent interest that she can deposit as well, a little something extra for every dollar saved.

And then we'll go for ice-cream, of course. What would a celebration of saving be without a little ice-cream? Freedomville, here I come!

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.

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