It can be tough trying to give your kids the best of everything when you're on a tight budget or trying to pay off debt. During back to school season, parents are especially vulnerable to overspending as they worry about their child’s future success. Before overindulging your kid on things they don't really need, here are some purchases you should reconsider without feeling guilty.
Clothing: Yes we want our kids to feel excited and confident when they go back to school. But do they really need a whole new wardrobe to accomplish that? Go through your kid’s clothes before going shopping to see what still fits them, so you only get items they really need (no one needs 10 pairs of jeans!). Remember to check birthday and Christmas gifts that may have been too big for them last year. Don't feel obligated to buy new clothes or accessories just because it's a new school year or things are on sale. If you can get another year of use out of their backpack or hat, the money saved could be better spent elsewhere or used to pay down debt.
Go through your kid’s clothes before going shopping to see what still fits them, so you only get items they really need (no one needs 10 pairs of jeans!)
Technology: Back to school season can be a great time to get deals on electronics. However make sure you're only buying the devices and software your child needs. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents make is buying their kids things that they haven't even asked for. They'll see a commercial for a fancy new touchscreen laptop, and suddenly feel the need to buy it, otherwise their kid is missing out. It can be easy to justify wants as needs when you're trying to motivate your kid to study. However having extensive technology at their fingertips is not necessarily good for your child's learning. In fact all the extra technology may just provide more distractions.
If you still feel guilty or confused about whether your child really needs a smartphone with a 1.5 GHz processor to help with their homework, try talking to other parents about their children's needs.
Current trends: Whether it be a new state-of-the-art cell phone or running shoes that cost more than your gas bill, there's always that one item your child wants that makes you cringe. Instead of saying no right away or even worse...saying yes knowing that you should be using that money to pay off your debt faster, use this as an opportunity to teach your child about spending. Offer to pay the amount you would have paid for a more basic version if your child can cover the rest of the cost or explain that they'll have to choose between that and another similar priced item on their want list.
If you still feel guilty or confused about whether your child really needs a smartphone with a 1.5 GHz processor to help with their homework, try talking to other parents about their children's needs. After discussing clothing with other parents at my child's school I was surprised to find out that some of the families who seem to be the most financially comfortable will actually give their kids hand-me-down clothes from friends and relatives. Avoiding spending on the little items is what allows them to stay debt-free. While you don't want to deprive your child, setting limits on unnecessary expenses will help you control your back to school costs.