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Back to school means shopping. It's an expensive time of year, but cluing kids in on how much things cost and having them be a part of the planning can save money...and headaches! In this New Day Northwest segment, Community Relations Coordinator Suzanne Klenk provides five tips to help make school shopping fun and easier on the wallet.

Tip #1: Create a budget and include your children
Before you go shopping, sit down with your kids and talk budget. Lay out the amount of money you can spend and decide what needs to be purchased; e.g., clothing or shoes that need to be replaced or to supplement the wardrobe they currently have. 

Tip #2: Discuss the differences between "want" and "need"
It's never too early to teach kids the difference between what they want and what they need. Discuss the difference with your children by explaining what the needs are - underwear, shoes, socks, coat and basic clothing - versus the wants...designer clothing, a certain brand or style of shoes and accessories. One suggestion is to tell your kids that you'll pay for the "needs" and they can pay the "wants." A good example is to explain that you'll pay a certain amount for a pair of jeans; if they want something that costs more, they can cover the difference. 

Tip #3: Find what you're looking for at the best price
Look at ads and flyers for sales and also to gauge how much the items on your list will cost. Consider discount retailers as an alternative to high-end retailers that may carry the same brand or items that you're looking for. 

Tip #4: Use cash for the "wants"
Paying with cash, especially for the extras, has more of an impact than swiping a piece of plastic. Kids will have a better sense of how much they actually have to spend, which will help them make smarter decisions such as whether they want to upgrade to a more expensive item or use the money for something else. The other plus of using cash is when it's gone, it's gone. It's a good reminder for all of us! 

Tip #5: Online shopping is a great resource
Online shopping is another great way to shop for school, especially with the online retailers that offer free shipping and don't charge tax. Remind your child that the same rules apply here for "want" and need"!

Have a financial question for Suzanne?
If you have a financial question you would like to ask Suzanne, please feel free to send her an e-mail.

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