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Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010 08:20 pm

Involve kids in back-to-school shopping

Back to school means seeing friends, catching up and wearing new clothes, which is fun and exciting for kids. But for parents, back-to-school shopping, planning and scheduling can be stressful. If you plan ahead, and involve your children in the process, you will save money and have the opportunity to teach some valuable life skills such as financial know-how, time management and successful work habits.

These tips will make the transition from summer ease to a successful school year as simple as possible.

Plan and make a list. Spending is easy but to save money takes a plan. First things first, make a list of supplies and clothing needed for school, and then create a second list of wants.

Take inventory. Go through clothing and supplies separating what stays and what goes. Make a list of needs, which you will buy, and wants, which will take a back seat for now.

Make it fun. Go on a scavenger hunt around the house to find any leftover supplies from last year, then check those off your list and, voila, you just saved money. Practice this with clothing, shoes and accessories and you will be amazed at what you really don’t need. Set a budget with your new list, use cash and don’t forget your coupons.

Have a plan. Limits should be set before you head out the door. It’s fine to say I have $100 to spend this week, and help your child spend it wisely.

Pass it along. Take the items that you have set aside and pass them along to a charitable organization. Teaching your child to give to others builds character and appreciation for what they have.

Routine, routine, routine. Creating good habits can be easier than you think; by putting a routine in place you can turn a daily chore into a good habit. In a perfect world your kids would wake up on time, eat and be ready for school. But, if that’s unlikely, creating a visual daily chart with what is expected in the morning, after school and before bed will give your child the structure they need to create successful habits.

Rewards. Ever wonder how one teacher can control 30 kids? Rewards! Kids love rewards, and kids love a challenge. Set up a reward system at home and allow your child to attain rewards for success.

Spread it out. Children live in a world of instant, fast, got to have it now! Children do not know what delayed gratification means. Spread out the back-to-school purchases over several weeks or months if possible.

Setting goals with allowance. You can implement an allowance system, which will allow your kids to earn money for the items on their “wants” list. Allowance can help you and your kids become consistent with what is expected on a daily routine. When kids succeed at goals, and finishing a job, they feel a sense of pride accomplishment. Set your kids up for success and everyone wins.

Lori Mackey of Agoura Hills, Calif., is an i-Parenting award-winning author, speaker, mother of two teens and founder of http://www.Prosperity4Kids.com.
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