From the President's Desk...
Believe it or not, it’s nearly time for students of all ages to return to school. From the 5 year old heading off to kindergarten, to the high school senior looking forward to graduation, and every age in between, back to school is an expensive time of year. Here are some tips to manage those expenses without emptying your bank account.
- Plan Ahead – As with all things in life, some planning today can save headaches tomorrow. Create a list that includes everything your student will need, which may include things like school supplies, clothes, textbooks, shoes, and more. Don’t neglect what’s needed for extracurricular activities, such as sports or music. Classroom teachers frequently provide lists of required supplies, so double check your list against theirs. Once your list is put together, don’t deviate when it comes time to shop, in order to avoid expensive impulse buying.
- Prioritize Your Purchases – Your children have many things they need, but they also likely will add to your list with things they want. There is a big, big difference between the two. Consider allowing each child to buy one item from the “want” side of the list, as a special back to school gift from you. But don’t get carried away with buying the wants, as the budget will quickly be in trouble.
- Establish the Budget – I just mentioned the “b word”…budget…and it’s critical, especially in these times of runaway inflation. Good budgeting practices ensure that you don’t set yourself up for pain. No one wants to face overdraft fees and high credit card balances. During your planning it’s critical to establish spending limits, and more importantly to stick tightly to them. Look for sales, which are common this time of year, including the popular “tax free weekend”, which in Iowa takes place on August 5-6.
- Save Ahead of Time – While it won’t help this month, start a savings plan now to help with next summer’s spending. Even putting away as little as $25/month/child can give you a very helpful cushion when this time arrives next year.
Some early planning today can help you avoid breaking the budget tomorrow.