Personal Finance Expert Offers Back to School Shopping Tips
With the new school year approaching, a survey by Visa Inc. shows that 93% of Americans believe all high school students should be required to take a class in financial education. While a handful of states have adopted varying degrees of financial literacy curriculum, currently, only 4 states require high school students to take a semester-long course in personal finance. Only 3% of survey respondents do not think a financial education class should be required, with 4% unsure.
To help extend the reach of financial education from the kitchen table to the classroom, Visa offers parents, students and teachers free access to an award-winning money management program called Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com). The program comes complete with an array of interactive resources, games and calculators, including a "Back to School Budget Calculator" which gives students hands on experience when it comes to preparing and sticking to a budget. The site also features an allowance calculator designed to help parents get a better grip on their kids' spending habits.
Available to discuss tips on how parents can use back to school shopping as an opportunity to lay the foundation for helping their children develop sound money management habits early in life is personal finance expert and the Director of Practical Money Skills for Life, Jason Alderman. Some tips include:
- Set a realistic back to school budget before you go shopping.
- Have your kids prepare a budget with you.
- Take a print out of your estimated budget with you when shopping and have your child enter in all of the actual expenses.
- Encourage children to follow the budget. Stress that getting a more expensive item might mean sacrificing something else.
- Encourage kids to consider ways to cut costs and manage cash flow, like clipping coupons, looking for sales, or buying supplies each semester.
- Teach your kids to comparison shop to avoid impulse buying or paying for overpriced items.
- Differentiate between "needs" and "wants." Encourage children to contribute their own money to fill the gap between what they "need" and what they "want."
- Tell kids that if they come in under budget, you will split the savings with them.
- Continue the budgeting lesson by starting kids with an ongoing monthly budget.