Get a jumpstart on your child’s education this year by making back-to-school shopping a learning experience. According to our survey of 300 working moms sponsored by Chase Slate, more than half of career moms expect to do their back-to-school shopping in person. To make the most of your trip to the mall, bring your kids along to share in the shopping experience—they can look for sales, compare prices for similar items across retailers and even contribute their own money to a must-have purchase. For more ways to sneak in some life lessons while ticking off your back-to-school to-do list, read on:
Keep it age appropriate For younger kids who can’t yet grasp the concept of money, it’s valuable to include them in the process. Amanda Steinberg, founder and CEO of DailyWorth, uses the back-to-school season as an opportunity to clean out her kid’s drawers—and asks her son, Dylan, 6, to help. “Getting kids involved is really important in terms of teaching them be aware of, and to value, what they already have,” she says. In fact, half of working mothers in our survey plan to re-use items from previous years.
For older kids, allowing them to use their savings, or giving them a set amount of money to spend, will introduce them to savvy shopping—and lend them valuable practice in balancing their needs and wants. “If my kids want something that costs more than I am willing to pay (for example, those really expensive sneakers), I give them the option of paying a portion of it themselves from their allowance or savings,” says Melissa Gonville, senior marketing director at Chase, and mom to Kamryn, 15, and Keagan, 12. “It really makes them think about how much they want the item and whether it’s worth the money.”
It’s O.K. to say no Kids today face a lot of peer pressure to have the coolest stuff and the latest gadgets. If money were no object, almost half of career moms surveyed would buy a laptop or tablet for their child. But discipline matters when it comes to money, says Steinberg. “We have to remember as parents that ‘no’ is actually a good word—especially if you find yourself buying an item you can’t afford just because your kid wants one,” she says.
Lead by example “Paying attention to your shopping habits and what you’re spending is one of best ways to teach your children about money,” says Steinberg. In some cases, what you don’t buy is just as important as what you do. “My son knows we won't buy him long pants until the weather's cool, because we don't want to risk having him outgrow them right away,” says Working Mother senior editor Krista Carothers, mom to Jack, 7. “We feel that just showing him restraint in spending is a useful lesson.”
In the spirit of learning, we asked working moms to share their best back-to-school moments with us via our Facebook sweepstakes. We got loads of sweet, inspiring and funny back-to-school snapshots, but we could only pick a select few from our random drawing to receive a $500 Chase Visa gift card. Congratulations to the four winners of the Working Mother Back-to-School Moments Sweepstakes: Geniene Pernotto, Carol Sosalla, Laura Loss, and Lori Scanlan.
If you need a refresher course on making the most of your back-to-school budget, as well as top tips on balancing work and family, be sure to check out our previous posts and two-part video series featuring working moms Krista Carothers, Amanda Steinberg and Melissa Gonville. And, a hearty congrats to all the working moms who successfully made it through another back-to-school season intact. (whew!)
Jennifer Carofano is a freelance writer and working mom of one in Los Angeles.