Jeanette A. Tucker | 7/21/2006 12:18:21 AM
The new school year is a good time for your college-bound student to learn sound budgeting techniques. Help your young adult plan a budget while teaching money management skills in the process, advises LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker.
The family economist offers these strategies:
• Develop lists and limits. Work with your child to develop initial back-to-school lists. In addition to the usual clothing and school supplies, remember to include items such as haircuts, immunizations, dental, eye or physical exams, band or athletic uniforms and equipment or musical equipment rentals. Work from the list to determine budget and spending limits. Be sure to include your child in the overall planning and budgeting process.
• Help your child recognize and express priorities. Review the list, and discuss the difference between wants and needs. Although certain supplies are a need, a $15 backpack may do just as well as the $50 one, which is a want. Similarly, brand name clothes may be popular, but can take a huge chunk out of the clothing budget and drastically reduce the number of new garments that can be purchased.
If your child’s heart is set on a purchase with all the bells and whistles, decide together how to cut costs on other items or eliminate less important wants from the list. Put priorities in order.
• Save on clothing. See what wearable clothing is already available. Perhaps some reusable clothes are available from older siblings, friends or relatives who have outgrown the garments.
After inventorying available clothing, make a list of what else is needed, including sizes and colors. Take your clothing list with you every time you shop. Have your child help you search the newspaper ads for back-to-school sales, and then compare prices. Check factory outlet malls, yard sales, resale shops or thrift stores that may offer lower prices.
Explain to your child that the latest brand names in clothing may not be the best choice. Compare costs and suggest sensible alternatives. If your youngster wants to save from his allowance for an expensive item, then you might want to allow this purchase.
• Comparison shop for supplies. Schools often provide a list of required supplies. Before buying them, however, check your child’s old backpack to see if anything usable was brought home from the previous year. Then check ads for sales. You may be able to save a great deal by comparison shopping at warehouse, discount, office supply or even grocery stores.
"Budgeting should be habit forming," Tucker says, adding, "Remind your kids that back-to-school budgeting is only the beginning. Keep money management skills foremost in their minds all year long."
For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
Source: Jeanette Tucker (225) 578-5398, or Jtucker@agcenter.lsu.ed