WSECU shows how to turn school shopping into a financial lesson for kids!


by New Day Producers

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM

School Clothes & Supply Shopping season is here! 

This shopping frenzy seems second only to the Christmas Season! 

Suzanne Klenk from Washington State Employees Credit Union joined Margaret to share five tips to get your kids on board with saving money while school shopping-- which will save you money in the long run!

One of Suzanne's favorite quotes is from Jennifer Corriero.  She said: “I wonder......if young people were actively engaged in all aspects of society, and thought of themselves as community leaders, problem solvers, role models, mentors and key "stakeholders" would the world change?”

WSECU is actively involved in Financial Literacy for children of all ages.  And one true fact is that it all begins in the home.  What a great time to educate your children on the cost of things than with Back to School shopping.  They have a vested interest in what is purchased, why not let them in on the cost and budgeting end of it too?

Tip # 1:  Start with a budget and include your child in the development of the budget. (Age appropriate)  Have a set amount of money you can spend.

Budgeting is appropriate at most ages.  Decide on how much you can spend and let your child know what you have to work with.  It is fun to let them take a calculator or pen & paper so that they can plug in how much they have available and how each purchase affects the bottom line. 

Tip # 2:  Talk about the difference between “Want and Need”. 

This is a really important conversation. They “need” underwear, socks, shoes, pants and shirts.  They may “want” designer jeans and fancy shoes. Include both “Need” and “Want” in your budget understanding that they do not have to be an equal amount.  You control the “Need” budget and the child gets to control the “Want” budget.  For example:  You have budgeted $30 for shoes, but your child wants a pair that costs $50,  $30 comes from the “Need” budget and the child gets to decide if it is worth spending the $20 for the extra fancy shoes. Developing a sense of want vs. need is important is all aspects of life, but particularly important when developing good financial habits.  No time like to present to learn that lesson. 

Tip # 3:  Scan the ads and make a list of stores and items to stretch your budget.

Look at the ads together. This will help avoid sticker shock for your student and hopefully get them on the same page with you as to how much items cost and the compromises ahead.  Let them help you decide where to go to get the most for your money.  Having a list will also prevent random impulse shopping.  Sensory overload is the goal of Department Store Marketing.  They count on impulse shopping as a major source of income.  This is meant to distract and entice adults and young people.  With gas pushing $4 per gallon and higher, fuel costs are a factor and should be discussed.

Tip # 4:  Shop with cash.  When it is gone, it’s gone.

The “Want” budget should be cash…or for teens, check with your Credit Union about a pre-paid debit card or Visa gift card.  It will help re-enforce the fact that when the money is gone, the shopping stops.  It is helpful the first few times you do this to give them cash so that they can see the amount of money they have dwindle as the shopping day goes on.  It will also assist them in deciding whether or not to spend money on one “Want” item vs. another.

Tip # 5:  Don’t forget online shopping. 

Make sure you apply all the same rules with regard to “Want” and “Need”.  Shopping online can save you a substantial amount and some places offer free shipping and no tax which can be a significant savings.

For more information about the ways that Washington State Employees Credit Union can help you and your family, please click here.

To contact Suzanne Klenk with a financial question or to request a financial workshop at your business or organization, email her: