The ads are hitting hard regarding all the things you can buy to send your children back to school. Whether you are finding that first school backpack for your kindergartner or picking up the necessities for your college freshman’s dorm room, some money will be spent. This is the perfect time to teach some financial lessons no matter what age you are dealing with.
Grade school kids can be a part of the planning. Use cash and show them you have put aside a certain amount of money for school supplies and they can participate in the process. They can see that obtaining these things requires an exchange of money for goods and you have choices to make.
Middle school and high school kids can gradually take more responsibility. Give them a certain amount of cash to purchase what they need. The clothes budget can be limited to a specific amount and they may need to earn their own money for all or a portion of that. As kids get older, it is only fair to be honest with them as to what you will cover. Give them more control over their choices within the limits that are set.
It is extremely important to have an open discussion with your college-bound students as to the expectations for covering tuition and living costs. Be absolutely clear what you, as parents, will pay for and what they are expected to cover from their summer or other part-time employment or savings. If receiving financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants or student loans, go over that information carefully together. All students and parents should know how much college is going to cost, how it will be paid for and how much debt they may be building up. The unknown may be the amount needed for spending money and incidentals.
Encourage college students to track their costs for eating out, entertainment, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses so you can discuss and plan accordingly. Parents sometimes also underestimate the cost of these incidentals during the college school year. You can also have a conversation how to control or limit spending to stretch their money farther. How to responsibly manage a bank account they may be using is also essential knowledge. Not giving your kids a clear picture of the financial status is depriving them of valuable information and knowledge they need to survive on their own.
Back to school time can be an important money lesson opportunity so take advantage of it.