Back to school budget tips

Ruth to the Rescue offers tips for back to school budgets


DETROIT – Millions of parents have been back to school shopping, but financial experts warn to keep a budget in mind when hitting the stores.

A recent survey from Chase Credit Card Services found parents are more confident with their finances and ready to boost back to school spending.

However, personal finance expert Erica Sandberg told Ruth to the Rescue, "Improvement is great, spending is great, but you have to be very careful still."

That can be tough when kids still want the latest brands. Stacy Tate of Birmingham said, "The kids where my kids go to school often have several pairs of the high end shoes and my kids only get one pair."

David Fondo from Westland said his daughter, "doesn't like the budget very much because of course, being five, she's a little princess and wants everything that sparkles."

Sticking with a budget

As tough as it may be, the survey from Chase found that 38 % of parents do want to budget wisely. Personal finance expert, Erica Sandberg said, "We've become a little bit more comfortable saying, Ok, I am not going to approach my personal finances in this chaotic way, I want to do it right."

Karen Delano from Hazel Park shared her trick on how to do just that, "Just by saying we're going to spend X amount of dollars, that's it."

Sandberg said the easiest way to stick with your budget is to make it a family project. She said, "Get everybody involved. Get all those old backpacks together and the clothes and really figure out what you need to purchase and what you don't need."

Learn to say no

Once priorities are set, she said learn how to say the two letter word, many children don't like to hear. She said, "Sometimes its very difficult as parents to say no, so get used to saying no, no, no."

Stacy Tate from Birmingham added you just have to stay firm, "I just let them know what the amount is and they have to stick with that."

Karen Delano of Hazel park said her son, "...knows that if he wants or needs anything more than I'm willing to spend he has to work for it."

Get the kids on board

Sandberg said you can always encourage the kids to help you find bargains by making it exciting, "You can even give them a little prize at the end for who can get the best bargain for this or that."

David said with his little girl it's all about compromise, "Instead of getting one thing that she likes that we feel is way out of our budget we'll come in and offer two things that are in the budget and she's usually happy with that."

But David admits he still struggles, "It's hard to stick with the budget, we usually come in over."

Some other tips from Sandberg:

1) Check your credit card balances before leaving the house, so you know what limits you're up against
2) Keep all the expenses on one card to better track spending
3) Be prepared to pay off that credit card, to avoid interest payments

We would add, when in doubt- use cash! It's much more difficult to overspend that way. If you're out of cash, your budget has been busted!