Back-to-School Shopping with Greenlight

There are tons of guides out there with tips on how to squeeze the most out of your back-to-school budgets. 

In this post, we talk about how to bring your kids along for the back-to-school shopping ride. In fact, we think it could be time to put them in the driver’s seat — with some adult supervision, of course — to teach them first-hand about trade-off decisions.

Start with a back-to-school budget.

Put that budget in your child’s Spend Anywhere account within the Greenlight app before you start shopping. When the child themselves makes the purchases on their Greenlight card, they will feel more responsible for how the funds are spent. 

Deloitte’s 2019 Back-to-School Survey reported the average family will spend $519 per child on supplies, electronics, apparel and accessories for the new school year. Start there, or with a budget your family is comfortable with.

Back-to-school budget in child's Greenlight account.

Attack the school supplies list.

  1. Get your 2019-20 supplies and clothes list in a spreadsheet. (Find one of our favorites here.)
  2. Have your kids take inventory of what they already have and what they need for next year. Spreading out items on the kitchen table or bed can spark conversations on what’s essential to purchase new this year versus what’s nice to have.
  3. Make a plan. We recommend starting with school supplies before going into the latest clothes and sneakers.

Shopping online?

Tons of experts have taken the hard work out of bargain hunting. Goodhousekeeping, U.S. News & World Report and The Krazy Coupon Lady and have already published their best deals guides to the 2019 back-to-school shopping seasons. Have your kids review these guides and prioritize their most important items.

Sit with your kids and shop around online for name-brand items, and see if you can find them at a lower cost across Amazon, Walmart.com or other budget sites. You can mark the best prices on your spreadsheet.

Pro tip: Target started School List Assist in 2017. Just search for your school and Target collects all your supplies in an online shopping cart. Do your research with your child to make sure you’re finding the best deals. 

Ready to brave the stores?

The budget can be made or broken in the crowded aisles of Walmart, Target, The Dollar Store or your local shops. To avoid the crowds, we recommend early in the morning or later in the afternoon during the week.

Bring your spreadsheet with you and know how much is left on your list. 

Have your tech-savvy kids download Shop Savvy. It’s a Greenlight fan favorite. While you’re at the store, scan barcodes to see if you’re getting the best deal around, and mark the best deals off the list as you find them.

Have your kids handle checkout. While they use their Greenlight, they’ll feel more ownership of the items they purchased. And hopefully they’ll take better care of their things now that they’ve been in charge of their budget.

Balance your budget before apparel shopping.

Reconcile your budget in the spreadsheet before going shopping for clothes, so your kids know how much they can spend.

Make deals with them or trade-offs for things that may fall out of budget. Have them prioritize what’s most important for now — what do they need now, and what can wait until later in the school year?

Let us know how your shopping goes!

Post photos of your kids on social media using #mygreenlight.

Haven’t joined Greenlight yet?

Get started by signing your family up today.

How to financially prepare your kids for back-to-school season

Parents aren’t the only ones pulling out their wallets for back-to-school season. According to a 2019 survey from the National Retail Federation, teens are spending an average of $36.71 of their own money and pre-teens an average of $26.40. 

This year, your back-to-school budgeting may be a little different (okay, a LOT), but one thing remains the same: A new school year means new costs. Which also means new opportunities for your kids to learn about money. Follow along for our tips on getting your kids ready for the upcoming school year!

Plan beyond the school supply list

School supply list with pencil and ruler

Back-to-school budgeting brings up a lot of conversation about school supplies for the first day, but what about the whole school year? When you sit down and talk to your kids about their school supply lists, you may want to chat about other expenses that might pop up throughout the year. Here are a few to consider:

  • Sports
  • Yearbooks
  • ACT/SAT study materials
  • Lunch money 
  • School pictures

Shifting over to a virtual learning environment? Some of the usual expenses may go away this year, but you should be ready for new ones. Think: Virtual classroom decorations, new desks and high-powered laptops.

Talk about back-to-school deals

Love a good BOGO deal? So do we. But your kids may not understand how much it matters to score a good deal — especially during a busy retail season like back-to-school season. 

As you probably know, smart shopping means looking for deals, shopping early and doing research before buying. To get your kids into these habits, try comparing prices online and showing them how to find discounts. Bonus: Help your kids make savings goals throughout the school year. They can do this with their Greenlight app

Separate wants from needs

Trade-off decision about spending extra on pizza delivery

Coming up with a back-to-school budget is a great time to talk about wants and needs. If your kids have a school supply list from their teacher, use it as a guide. If not, it doesn’t take too long to come up with one yourself — or use a quick start list of common items by grade

Go through your kids’ school supply lists one by one. Talk about each item and whether it’s a must-have or a nice-to-have. Then, decide how they (or you) would like to budget accordingly. Maybe your kids want to splurge on a set of trendy binders but they’re okay with buying cheaper folders and erasers. Or maybe they’d rather save for something else down the line, like a laptop or an iPad. And look at that… they’re already thinking about wants and needs! Piece of cake.

Always come back to learning

Your kids might be excited about the first day. They might be nervous. You might be stressing about setting up a virtual learning environment. Or maybe you’re just not ready to think about any of it yet!
 
Here’s what really matters: Your kids are learning. And we’re not just talking about school. Kids learn by doing chores, deciding how to spend their money and setting savings goals. Just pull up your Greenlight app and let the learning (and fun) begin.

A fresh new look for Greenlight

In 2017, Greenlight started on a bold mission to raise a generation of financially-smart kids. Now, that mission is growing. Because… well, we’re growing.

1 million strong

Earlier this year, we surpassed 1 MILLION kids and parents. That’s more than 1 million of you who…

  • Dreamed up new features for us to build.
  • Reached savings goals (and then created more). 
  • Finished chores on time and earned allowances.
  • Chuckled at our corny jokes. 
  • Gave money to charities.

And throughout it all, it’s the 1 million of you who inspired us to keep reaching for new milestones.

Fun, fresh and new

We thought a lot about how we could celebrate you, be better for you and evolve the Greenlight you know and love.

As a team, we decided it needed to be big. It needed to be new. 

So we came together to imagine a new brand — a brand that can be there for every first, every birthday, every transition and every milestone. A brand that inspires your trust and is there to celebrate every little joy of being a parent.

Today, we’re so happy to introduce you to the new look for Greenlight, as we take on an even bigger mission: to shine a light on the world of money for kids and parents.

What changes?

Starting today, the new look and feel will take over our website, social media, emails and more with (minty) fresh colors, a new logo, fun patterns and delightful photos that reflect our vibrant community of families.

What’s next? Stay tuned. Over time, you’ll see our new look across more and more of the Greenlight universe.

What stays the same?

Us! We’re still Greenlight. We’re just growing up, like your kids do. For now, your app and debit cards will still look largely the same. But, changes are on the way — we’re just getting started!

From our Greenlight team to your family, thank you for getting us here. With 1 million reasons to celebrate — and many more to come — welcome to the new Greenlight.