Keeping up with the Joneses is really about peer pressure for most of us.
For example, you might feel pressured to fit in or keep up with family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers when it comes to what you own. But accumulating more than them or trying to outspend them isn’t good for us financially.
As the new school year approaches, you may be struggling with the desire to get your kids what they need without spending a fortune. At the same time, you may feel pressured to keep up appearances and make sure they have cooler stuff than everybody else’s kids.
But instead of going into debt to satisfy your desire to keep up with the Joneses, here are some tips to make sure you stay on budget.
One of the first things you can do to avoid keeping up with the Joneses during back to school preparations is to plan ahead. It may sound simple, but it can save you money.
Make a list of what each child needs to get them through the school year. Don’t forget about things like jackets and coats for cooler weather, as well as sports equipment, such as basketball shoes.
Next, estimate what it will cost to buy what is needed for each of your kids. Spending the same amount on each child isn’t necessary. Instead, concentrate on what each of them needs.
Talk To Your Kids
If any of your children complain that they are not getting the same amount for a clothing allowance as a sibling or friend gets, have a talk with them. Explain that each one of them is important to you and because each child grows at a different rate their needs will not be equal. As children get older, they may also need more expensive things for school, like computers, calculators, and more.
Make Smart Purchases
Another way you can avoid keeping up with the Joneses during back to school preparations is to make smart purchases. Think about quality and durability that will last the whole year before you spend money on cheap, stylish items that may need to be replaced at least once. Here are some examples.
You could get away with only spending $20 to $30 dollars on shoes at a discount store, but they may not last. Instead, consider buying a pair of quality shoes from JCPenny on sale for $43.50.
It will cost a little more to get a better pair of tennis shoes. However, the higher price may be worth it if you only have to buy one pair to last the whole year instead of two or three pairs of less expensive shoes that don’t last, even if they have your kids’ favorite cartoon characters on them. Savvy shoppers know it’s more about quality than being flashy.
Don’t spend nearly $130 on one pair of torn jeans from a high priced trendy store for your pre-teen. Instead, spend the same amount on lots of back to school clothes from stores such as Target where you can get one pair of jeans for as little as $8. Your kids will have cute, trendy clothes and you will save money.
Backpacks are one item that you really can’t afford to buy cheaply. A well-made backpack could last your child for more than one year whereas a fashionable one might break or tear within only a few weeks.
Considering the load these bags must carry and the beating they take. Material makes a big difference in the quality and overall price. Canvas and other quality book bags with reinforced bottoms may cost around $40, but they will hold up longer than cheap backpacks for under $10 from Walmart. Again, don’t be fooled by the characters on the backpack, quality is much more important in this case.
Accessories are one area you can save money and not be quite as concerned about quality and durability. The reason for this is because many accessories are not worn or used on a daily basis. Therefore, they do not have to be as durable as other items. If you have room in your budget, you could let your child pick out a few trendy things here without having to worry as much about longevity.
Pencils, paper, notebooks and crayons should be purchased as cheaply as possible for back to school. However, you could allow your young child some wiggle room and let them choose a Disney Frozen notebook if it’s only a few cents more than a plain one. Or, allow your child to decorate a plain 3 ring binder with some Minion stickers because it’s far cheaper than buying the Minion binder.
It is possible to allow your kids to be trendy without busting your budget trying to keep up with the Joneses during back to school shopping. The important thing is knowing where it’s ok to sacrifice quality and when it is more important than being trendy.
Most of all, be honest with your kids. You may be surprised by the excited reaction of older children if you keep them involved in the budgeting process for back to school.