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Students aren’t the only ones who’ll need to pull out the pens, paper, and calculators for the back-to-school season. Parents who want to keep back-to-school spending under control should consider doing the same.
Backpacks, paper, books, pens, pencils, calculators, computers, clothes and shoes are basic necessities that can add up quickly and become significant expenses for any household. Developing and sticking to a solid spending plan is the key to avoiding overspending. If you are in charge of back-to-school shopping, here are tips to help keep your budget on track:
Develop a back-to-school budget
Take time to develop a monthly budget if you don’t already have one in place. Review your income and regular expenses, and determine your back-to-school spending goal based on what you can afford.
Take an inventory of school necessities
If you missed Spring-cleaning, this is a good time to pull out your child’s clothing, shoes and supplies for an inventory of what’s still useable. Have the kids try on clothes and shoes to see if they still fit. Consider donating clothes that no longer fit to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Be sure to get a receipt, since the items could be applied to your personal income taxes as charitable contributions. Another option is to sell the old clothing to a store that specializes in reselling used clothing. Use the money to buy clothes for the new season.
Create a comprehensive shopping list
Now that you’ve taken inventory, create a shopping list of your child’s needs. The list should include additional clothing, school, athletic, and scout uniforms, yearbooks, eyeglasses, classroom supplies, and musical instruments. Write down your children’s sizes and special colors needed for items like uniforms. Carry your shopping list to keep you on track.
Involve children in decision-making
Tell children what the spending goal is and how they can help meet the goal by choosing perhaps two outfits, instead of three. Help them understand how recycling clothes, lunch boxes, book bags, and notebook binders is not only good for the environment, but also good for the household budget.
Shop for the best prices
Get the best value for your dollar by checking for coupons and sales. Listen for TV and radio commercials and check your local Sunday newspaper for back-to-school and clearance sales. Also check department store apps – i.e., Target Cartwheel, etc.
Check for sales tax holidays
Check with your local government officials to see if a tax-free back-to-school shopping holiday is authorized in your area. A number of states have designated days that coincide with back-to-school shopping. The holiday offers local residents a chance to purchase clothing and school supplies tax-free! Some sales tax holidays even include computers. It can be an immediate savings for your back-to-school budget.
Limit expensive brands
You can save money on clothes and selected school supplies by purchasing generic or lesser-known brands. Always be sure the lesser-known brands are durable and quality products.
Use credit wisely
Pay with cash if possible. Try layaway if you need time to save up for purchases. If you have to use credit, use your Members 1st VISA® Platinum Cash Back credit card to earn cash toward your purchases. Plus, limit purchases to items you can pay off in 90 days. If you have more than one credit card, use the card with the lowest interest rate to minimize the amount you’ll have to pay back. Remember, using a credit card is like taking out a short-term loan.
Information courtesy of GreenPath Financial Wellness
Back to school time is rapidly approaching, and we are here to make sure that you and your family take the proper steps to ensure that the transition period is as easy as possible. Below is a checklist that you can use during the moving out process so your family is ready for this exciting time!
Q: Does my homeowner’s policy (HO Policy) cover my child’s property if he/she lives in a dorm?
A: Most HO Policies cover personal belongings up to a certain percentage (usually 10%) of the personal property limit stated in your HO Policy. Because of this limitation, and the possibility your student may bring high priced electronics and valuables to school, it’s important to check the coverage limits of your policy. If you think you aren’t adequately covered, consider increasing your policy limit, or purchasing a renter’s policy to ensure no coverage gaps exist.
Q: Do these coverages and limitations apply if my children live in off-campus housing?
A: Most HO Policies will NOT cover personal belongings for student living in off-campus housing. Nor will the landlord’s insurance. In this case, you are encouraged to purchase renter’s insurance. Whether your children reside in a dorm or off-campus housing, compiling a list of possessions, to include purchase prices, model numbers, etc., will assist when filing a claim, with deciding how much renter’s insurance will be needed, or how much to increase your HO Policy limits. (Taking pictures or videos is also encouraged. A free, helpful app is “Encircle” Home Inventory.)
Q: Are there auto insurance issues I should discuss with my agent?
A: Inform your agent if your children go away to college. If they don’t take a car, you may be entitled to a premium discount, but still be able to retain coverage should they come home for a holiday, or borrow a car while away at school. If they do take a car, premiums may increase or decrease, depending on the location of the school. In addition, maintaining a certain GPA may entitle you to a “good student discount”, whether they bring a car to school or not.
Q: Are there health insurance issues to consider?
A: Children attending college who are younger than 26 may maintain coverage on your insurance, as long as they’re not offered coverage through their own employer. If your child attends college in another state, your plan’s network of hospitals and preferred doctors may not extend there. However, your student will likely have coverage for emergency care, but need to travel to a preferred doctor or hospital for routine care. Check your plan’s provisions, or contact your provider to find out what benefits are available.
Q: What if my children don’t have insurance or it’s limited by network service issues?
A: Consider purchasing a “student health care plan”. Such plans are sold by insurers who have contracted with the college. Contact your child’s college for more detailed information. Another alternative would be to purchase an individual health insurance policy through your agent.
Q: Are there other issues to consider?
A: Two other types of insurance to discuss with your agent are Life Insurance and Identity Theft insurance.
Q: How do I know what I should do?
A: Making such a decision about your options is yours – and yours alone under the law. Our Insurance Services department’s job is to help provide you with valuable information, so you can make informed decisions. For more information, visit our website.
Unless you’re born into it or inherit it, most of us have to work for the money we need. Some of us work more than one job to make it all come together. Sometimes we have to borrow money for the things we want or need like a home, car, wedding, or to finance an education. Sometimes people take on more debt in terms of credit cards and loans than the amount of money they bring in to make the payments.
Bob Marquette, our President & CEO, was recently featured on FOX 43’s “Fixing Your Finances“. He discussed how credit score works, why a good credit history impacts your ability to obtain a loan, and provided tips on how you can improve your own credit score.
Looking to fix your finances? Check out Bob’s segment by clicking below:
Friendly reminder – Check Your Credit Report Annually
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year. It’s important to check your credit report regularly for accuracy, discrepancies, fraudulent activity, and identity theft. And federal law requires Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the big three consumer credit reporting companies, to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Get your free credit report today.
Need additional help?
We offer our members access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath Financial Wellness. As a member, you can receive assistance with: