Parents are shelling out a pretty penny this year to get their children ready for the school year.
According to the National Retail Federation, families can expect to spend an average of $684, per child.
"People struggle because they don’t have a plan in place," said Steve Ringo, financial expert at DeWitt & Dunn. He said hitting the stores with no direction will only lead to sticker shock and possibly regret when you check your next credit card statement.
Identifying the big ticket items should be your first step, Ringo advised.
"Start with technology first, whether it’s the tablets, the computers, the calculators. Those things are really expensive," he said.
Parents are expected to spend 7 percent more this year on back to school tech — an average of $200.
Laptops will cost from $150 to more than $2,000, so it’s important to understand which model your student will actually need. If you’re unsure, ask the school, and look for two-in-one models that double as a tablet and laptop.
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"Also, don’t get carried away on the top of the line. Get exactly what you need for your family," said Ringo.
Shoes can also cost you big time, especially if your kids are into the latest trends and high end sneakers. If your student insists, Ringo said make them work for it.
"That’s always a good time to teach them about finances. If you want something, work hard and you’ll be able to get it. So if you have a budget of X amount of dollars, but if they want to pay the rest, they can earn that in the form of chores, or doing extra work," he explained.
Ringo also said parents shouldn't go overboard when it comes to classroom extras. Those are additional things that teachers need on an annual basis.
He recommends buying some of these items throughout the year, not at once.
And last, but not least, Ringo wants parents to put their budget on paper. It might sound silly, but creating a budget worksheet can really keep you on track.
If you’re not sure how to create a budget worksheet, or just don’t feel like creating one, see the one below.