A year ago, back-to-school shopping was predictable: erasers, pencils, binders, you know the drill. This year, parents are doing the unimaginable. On top of back-to-school shopping for regular supplies, you’re searching for masks, desks, new WiFi packages and maybe these crazy new things called pandemic pods.
Not sure what to do about it? Start with these 5 money tips for all you families going back-to-school online.
1. Address (but don’t stress!) the “what ifs”
You and your kids might be playing the “what if” game right now, and a lot of your questions may be about money. Plan a day to hold a family town hall, and use this time to explain how virtual learning is affecting your finances.
Answer your kids’ questions, ask them questions, and talk it out until you’re feeling ready to take on the new school year. You don’t need to pull up your master budgeting spreadsheet. Just show them how you’re cutting costs to afford new ones — or follow this helpful guide to make the conversation easier.
2. Make savings goals as a family
A recent Deloitte survey shows us a new spending category for back-to-school shopping this year: personal hygiene products and desks. You probably never thought you’d be buying masks and computer accessories for the new school year, did you? To make these new costs possible, saving will be important.
Show your kids how you’re saving money. Then, set goals as a family! Maybe your goal is to limit spending on takeout or to put more of your paycheck in your emergency fund. Or maybe you’ll ask your kids to chip in for their school supplies — just have them set a savings goal in their Greenlight app.
3. Divide and conquer (the house)
Let’s be real — when you have a lot on your plate, one of the first things to take off your to-do list is household chores. You’re trying to work, teach, babysit, entertain and stay sane… and on top of that, you’re supposed to clean the house?!
Hand some chores over to your kids — we’ll get them all organized for you in your Greenlight app. Tell them they can earn more money if they double up on chores for the week (hello, negotiation skills!). Or explain to them that it’s part of their contribution to the house.
This will save you time and give you a squeaky clean house. More importantly, it gives your kids a glimpse of the real world. They’ll have to choose how they want to manage their time, and they’ll get practice juggling different responsibilities.
4. Team up with other families
It helps to know that you’re not going through this alone. Reach out to classmates’ parents, neighbors and family members for support and ideas about how to handle a semester of virtual learning. There are socially distanced ways to save money, time and hassle together — here are a few:
- Buy in bulk. Anything from school supplies to desk wipes can be bought in bulk so you and other families can save money. To keep your distance, you can quickly organize a bulk shopping drop-off. Smile and wave from afar!
- Swap ideas. Some families are making private Facebook pages or group texts to chat about ways to save money and make virtual learning (and life!) easier.
- Join our Facebook group to connect with and learn from like-minded parents and Greenlight team members.
- Start a group Pinterest board. Spread the knowledge with pictures, money-saving recipes and digital coupons.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This goes for you AND your kids. We’re all experiencing challenges in different ways, and a lot of these challenges impact our money situations. We’re here to make saving easier, help you manage chores and set savings goals with your kids — but here are some additional resources that might be able to help.
- See if your family is eligible for benefits. There are lots of resources available on Benefits.gov.
- Keep your kids busy, without extra work for you. We pulled together a list of resources that have worked for our Greenlight parents who are spending more time at home with their kids.
- Access free books online. Wilbooks is a site with more than 2,000 free books online. They’re sorted by grade and language so you can quickly find books that are right for your kids.
- Use virtual afterschool programs. Mizzen by Mott is a free app that gives you lessons and fun activities to keep your students busy and engaged even when the school day is over.
A hug from us to you
The best tip of all: take a deep breath when you need to. It’s hard to stay calm with questions and worries, but you’re not alone. We’re sending virtual hugs your way. Check back often for more tips on going back-to-school online — and if you haven’t already, download the Greenlight app and get started!