InCharge Debt Solutions helps families get a smart financial start to the school year
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Back-to-school time may be a relief for parents, but can also cause undue stress on families' wallets. The cost of school supplies, new clothes, and even new equipment for sports or hobbies can add up quickly. Before your son or daughter hits the books, doing a little bit of studying yourself can greatly reduce your back-to-school expenses. InCharge Debt Solutions, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers find solutions to their debt problems, offers the following tips for budgeting your back-to-school shopping:
Get your school supplies list early. Take inventory around the house of what supplies you currently own, and check if any of last year's supplies are reusable. Buy new school essentials such as paper and binders in bulk, and save these essentials for next year—or when your child fills up his or her new spiral-bound notebook faster than expected. Watch for sales for non-bulk items such as rulers or calculators, and stockpile items throughout the year.
Remember that kids grow quickly.Clothes that fit in August may not fit by next year. Make sure to stock up on the basics before buying trendier items, and try shopping at discount and secondhand stores instead of the mall. When it's time to shop, generate a list of new clothes that your children need, but don't feel obligated to buy an entire wardrobe at once: kids may request a few new items once they see what everyone else is wearing. And don't forget to check that your children's clothes are within the rules of school dress codes!
Use gift cards to teach older kids about smart shopping. Give your older child or teenager a store gift card to use for back-to-school clothes or school supplies. Your child will feel independent swiping his or her card, and you can still monitor spending. Gift cards also teach kids about budgeting and comparison shopping.
Don't forget hidden fees. Doctor appointments, school fees, and even extracurricular supplies are often-overlooked components to your back-to-school spending. Keep in mind your child's fall activities when planning your budget, and plan ahead to pay for weekly fees or one-time purchases such as musical instruments or sports equipment.
Keep your receipts. Besides allowing you to return unwanted or unused items, receipts provide physical evidence of your purchases. You can track how much you have spent collectively on back-to-school items by compiling your receipts into a file. Keeping track of your receipts also allows you to pull together a realistic budget for next year and save money. If you shop online, make sure to print out receipts and track orders so they don't get lost in transit.
InCharge Debt Solutions provides bankruptcy counseling, credit counseling, and housing counseling services to consumers and service members in need of financial literacy education, money management guidance, and help finding the right debt solution for their specific situation.
About InCharge® Debt Solutions InCharge® Debt Solutions is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in personal finance education, housing counseling, bankruptcy services, and credit counseling. Founded in 1997, InCharge interacted with over 1.1 million consumers in 2011 alone. InCharge is affiliated with InCharge® Education Foundation, Inc. (ICEF) which is dedicated to providing educational products, services and research supporting the personal financial literacy of consumers across America. ICEF also provides financial literacy training to servicemembers and their families through MilitaryMoney.com. InCharge is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).