If Capital One’s annual Back-to-School Shopping Survey is any indication, parents and teens are in for some tense moments in the weeks ahead.
• Nearly half of parents questioned consider price to be the most important factor when making a back-to-school purchase. About the same percentage of teens said style and appearance top their priority list.
• Among parents, almost half plan to do their shopping at discount retailers and nearly a third expect to shop in department stores. For teens, those numbers are reversed.
• Clothing tops the shopping list for a majority of both parents and teens. But a sizable percentage of teens said technology products are “must haves.”
There are plenty of things you can do to give kids positive lessons in money management:
• Tell them exactly how much you’re able to spend, and let them have a say in how to divvy it up.
• Have the kids take an inventory of their closets to see what they really need versus what they merely want.
• Get the skinny on all the places, both online and off, where you can find the best deals for everything on your list (go to Kiplinger.com for slide shows on great deals).
• Map out your destinations beforehand so that you don’t get sidetracked when you hit the mall.
And here is the single most important thing you can do to keep kids’ shopping habits in check: Have them spend their own money. In the Capital One survey, 62 percent of teens reported receiving an allowance, yet 65 percent of teens don’t plan to help pay for their back-to-school shopping.
• If the kids receive an allowance, earmark a specific amount for clothing. If they don’t, consider giving them a clothing allowance.
• Agree that you will pick up the tab for their needs (clothing) and they will shell out for their wants (a smartphone).
• Make a shopping list and attach a realistic price tag to each item. Once it’s in writing, you’ll be less likely to deviate from the plan.
Whatever your strategy, the principle is the same: Kids are willing to spend unlimited amounts of money as long as it’s yours. When their money is on the line, it’s a whole new ball game.Janet Bodnar is editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.