Aug 17, 2018
Teach your kids the difference between needs and wants.
The summer is drawing to a close, and it’s almost time for your kids to head back to school.
To get ready, you’ll need to do some back-to-school shopping, for new sneakers, notebooks, pencils and all the other items that your kids will need for a new year of classes.
But do your children know how much it will cost to buy all of that gear? It’s important for kids to learn the value of money, and how much things cost, whether that’s for a new hobby, game, or all that back-to-school merchandise.
In this activity, your children will learn how to create a budget and a spending plan. This activity will help your child practice these skills when it comes to making purchases for school. This activity is for children between 3rd and 8th grades.
What will your kids learn? Most children participate in preparing to go back to school. New clothes, shoes, backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, and technology are often found on wish lists, but they can be budget breakers. Teaching children to classify “needs” versus “wants,” prioritize needed items, and spend within a set budget, are valuable life lessons. While working on this activity, children will practice and learn valuable lessons about budgeting and buying.
Teach your kids about back to school budgeting
Download the activity sheet
What You’ll Need
- Back-to-School Shopping printables — Download and Print [PDF]
- Access to sales circulars or shopping websites
- Set a dollar amount for your child’s back-to-school spending budget.
- On the “Back-to-School Wishlist,” create a list of items your child wishes to buy.
- Decide which of these items are needs, and which are things you want, but could do without. Circle your selection.
- Have your child prioritize the list. Number the most important item on my list as 1.
- The child will transfer the list to the “Back-to-School Shopping List.” Help your child research each item to determine its price, and where to buy it.
- The child will find the total cost of the list. Does it if within his or her budget? If not, work together discussing priorities and possibly needing to save for an important item.
Talk to your kids!
Parents should check in with their children to make sure they understand what they’ve learned.
It is important that your child understand needs versus wants. When working on the list or reviewing after your child has completed it, discuss different opinions. Children need sneakers for school. Do children need the latest popular sneaker? There is a computer available to them at school, do they need their own?
- What do you need to start the school year? Encourage your child to set a reasonable budget and stick to it.
- Do they need to spend all of their money? What can they do with any extra? (encourage savings)
- Have a discussion about the best time to buy certain items. Although stores have back-to-school sales on clothes during the summer, if you wait those same items are permanently discounted in early fall.
- Assist your child in researching where they can get the best price. Don’t make purchases until a plan is in place.
- How can you save for items that fall outside the budget? If your child wants something you deem extravagant, make a plan.
- After completing the activity, encourage your child to continue the practice of keeping a list, identify needs vs. wants and prioritizing. Talk about continued planning for other items and events.
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