Back to School on a Budget
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Back to School on a Budget

Back to School on a Budget

Posted by: Daisy Luther | on August 8, 2013

Back to school time means there won’t be any more daily cries of, “I’m booooooored!”  It means the end of those impromptu trips to the beach or the pool. It means that your house will be a little tidier, you will get a little more done, and your kids will get to see friends that they haven’t seen since the school doors closed at the beginning of the summer.

It also means that it’s time for mom and dad to spend some money.

When many Americans can barely make ends meet from month to month without any additional expenses, back-to-school time can be the source of a great deal of stress.

The economic collapse has occurred quietly and stealthily.  In fact, many people probably think that it has only happened to them, as job losses occur, utilities get cut off, and the pantry gets more sparse.  They don’t talk about it because poverty is a humiliating state – they suffer quietly, not realizing that the next-door neighbor is probably in the exact same situation.  They don’t realize that they aren’t alone.

Despite the deceptively whitewashed claims of the Job Report that say that things are looking up,  Breitbart released an article on July 5 refuting their optimistic assertions.  While there are technically “more” jobs, this is because positions that used to be full time are now part time – meaning that two or more people hold what used to be one job.

According to the article, only 47% of Americans are employed full time. In an age where most families require two parents to work full time in order to make ends meet, this is a devastating economic blow. (source)

While we, as adults, can tighten the budget relentlessly on items for ourselves, a lot of people have a much more difficult time enforcing frugality on their children. But by ignoring the financial restraints and spending with reckless abandon on our kids, I don’t believe that we are doing them any favors.  The economic outlook doesn’t appear to be improving any time soon, and showering your children with false prosperity doesn’t prepare them for surviving and thriving in such a world.

Figure out your budget

First things first, a back-to-school budget is a must.  This is dependent on your personal means.  No matter what your child believes that they “need”, it has to fit into the budget.

For years, I have used the envelope method for things like Christmas and back-to-school shopping. It’s fair, it’s efficient, and it’s tangible.  This way, I not only stay within budget, but I teach my kids about budgeting also.

Both of my daughters are very financially responsible and handle money well because they have been making their purchases fit the existing budget since they were old enough to perform the necessary math to do so.  There have been years that they made poor choices that they regretted, but by allowing them to do this, they learned a lesson that you just can’t teach them with a verbal warning.

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