The back-to-school season is upon us once again, and it brings with it a fresh set of financial questions to wrestle with. Where can you find the cheapest supplies? Can you afford new athletic equipment? Should you let your kids spend money on new clothes? Some families may be struggling to squeeze tuition costs into their budgets for the first time, or weighing pros and cons of investing in a car for their teenage son or daughter. Back-to-school season can stretch a tight budget, but it’s also an opportunity to reassess and plan for the future.
But while the start of the school year can be a headache to budget for, it is also an opportunity to revisit your financial goals and start new ones. For parents of high school students, it’s a good time to begin thinking seriously about your kids’ college education. Don’t let the daunting prospect of shelling out thousands of dollars in tuition payments put you off planning for the future. The most important thing is to set realistic goals for how much money you can contribute toward your kids’ education and plan for how to save enough money to do so.
Now is also a good time to look at how you can better involve your children in your family budgeting. Your kids are a grade older now than they were last year, and it may be time to think about giving them more financial responsibilities. It’s never too early to start teaching your kids about money management. For younger children, you might want to consider giving them weekly allowances that are contingent upon the completion of certain chores. If your kids are in high school, it may be a good time to talk about a part-time job and to involve them in your conversations about saving for college.
The weeks leading up to the new school year are always a stressful time. Kids feel anxious about starting new classes with new teachers and, sometimes, a new school, and parents have to plan for what seems like a constantly expanding list of expenses for their children. But while you’re budgeting for school-related costs, try to take advantage of the chance to do some longer-term planning, too.