Be Smart and Save Money: 5 Tips for Back to School Shopping

First and foremost, when you’re shopping for back to school supplies, make sure you know what you have. Go through your kids’ rooms and take inventory of their clothing and any supplies they might have laying around. Clean out old backpacks and school bags. Take stock of supplies in your home office, in your kitchen drawers, in the hall closet. This way, you won’t continue to buy a protractor every year when you have a forgotten pile of them tucked away somewhere in your house.

Once you have a list of what you already have, you’ll be more focused on what you need. Using your inventory list, create a new list of items your kids absolutely need for the upcoming school year. Make copies of your finalized need list and give them to everyone in your family. If you and your family are tech-savvy, consider creating a shared google doc, or something of the like, so that you and your children can edit it together. This way, there should be no confusion on what’s been purchased and what you still need to buy.

Start buying early and plan your time

Planning ahead is really the best way to save money on back to school shopping. If you start looking at supplies and prices early, you’ll be better equipped to recognize and take advantage of the best sale prices.

Also, if you make a plan ahead of time, deciding which stores you and your kids will need to visit to get their supplies, you can track those stores easily by subscribing to their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. Often, stores will post reminders of sales or even surprise offers to their subscribers. Following these stores early and often will help you get the most for your money.

Another benefit to starting your shopping early is the option of shopping online. Many times, you can find great deals shopping on Amazon, Overstock, even eBay or Craigslist. And, some stores offer online specific sales with better deals than you can find in store. So, don’t wait until the last week of summer to scramble and get your kids their supplies! Give yourself time to browse the internet too, and leave plenty of time for the great deals you find to be shipped to you.

Shop Tax Free Weekend and End of Summer Sales (but beware…)

Shopping on tax free weekend and during end of summer sales can be great ways to save money on back to school supplies. Parents should absolutely be aware of when tax free shopping occurs, and they should keep track of when their (and their kids’) favorite stores hold their end of summer sales.

However, it’s also a good idea to be critical of these seemingly fabulous sales. I worked at Old Navy throughout my high school and college years, so I have firsthand knowledge of some of the sneakier sides to summer sales. For example, sometimes stores will mark their prices up to full value during tax-free weekends, and other stores will actually run better sales before and after the big advertised “summer sale.” So be wary of the sales you see, and take the extra time to determine whether you’re getting the best deal. Don’t be fooled by the “tax-free” excitement of saving 7% on a shirt that costs $25 when it will be 50% off during next week’s less advertised sale.

Avoid unnecessaries and compromise with your kids

Fancy pencil pouches? Your kid has a backpack… that’s a pencil pouch right there. Cute, trendy, or graphic covered binders that cost 4x the amount of a regular, plain, binder? Who needs it? Chances are, your kid is going to either stuff some papers in there to keep for later, draw on it with markers or pens, or never take it out of his/her locker. Cutting down on the unnecessary items your kid wants but doesn’t need is a surefire way to save money.

But, if your son really wants the expensive backpack with a built in organizer, a hard-case pocket for his laptop, and a cool design on the front, compromise with him. If your daughter will not stop asking for the Vera Wang lunch bag she saw online the other day, compromise with her. Strike up a deal that they have to pay the difference between the backpack or lunch bag you want to buy for them and the one they want. They could cover this difference using saved up holiday money, allowance money, or by doing extra chores.

Be wary of teacher required lists

This last tip is a little variable, but here’s a secret from someone who’s taught high school for the past 5 years: Take our “required” school supply lists with a grain of salt. Again, this is the experience of just one teacher, but honestly, sometimes we don’t even know what our students will need for the entire year. My best advice is to buy the basics: pens, pencils, paper. Your child will always need something to write with and something to write on, but hold off on any excess- colored pencils, glue sticks, a binder for each class, rulers, etc.- until you know exactly what they’ll be using on a day-to-day basis

 

Allowance: When? How much? What for?

To give or not to give allowance, that is the question (and sometimes a controversial question at that). As piggy banks become obsolete and the need for physical cash dwindles in today’s fast-paced society, one thing hasn’t changed: the call of a child saying, “Hey Mom, I need money.” Whether parenting a 7-year-old or a 16-year-old, chances are pretty high that the A word (yes, allowance) is going to come up.

According to a T. Rowe Price survey, 51% of parents give their kids allowance. While the decision about whether or not to give allowances, the frequency of giving allowance and the amount of money that a child should receive for allowance can be highly personal to each family. 54% of parents who give allowance firmly believe it should be earned. 

Greenlight mom Maggy Parker shared, “I have always viewed allowance as a right of passage for my children. When the kids are old enough to take on regular responsibilities around the house, they are old enough to earn an allowance for their contribution.”

With age comes wisdom (and more allowance money) 

One of the most frequently asked questions about allowance focuses on what age is the best to start handing over money. While there are no official rules when it comes to allowance and each family is different, age 8 is the reported national average.  

Here’s a breakdown of what Greenlight kids average each week (ages 8-18): 

“I set my child’s weekly allowance after researching what the national average for allowance was and then cushioned it by a few dollars to ensure I was giving my son a little extra for his needs now that he’s driving,” said Greenlight mom Eliza Newell. 

Cha-ching, cha-chores! 

According to the most recent survey from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, four in five parents who give allowance expect their kids to work for money. and their kids average about five hours a week of household chores. 

With the majority of parents expect their kids to earn allowance, chores often factor in as a stairway to an allowance pay out — however, this can look different for different families. 

Some families expect a completed chore list for an allowance pay out. If the lawn isn’t raked, the Lego’s aren’t put away, the bathroom trash isn’t taken out and the reading log for the week isn’t filled out, no allowance gets paid. 

Other families assign specific dollar amounts to chores, so if the child only completes five of their eight chores for the week – they don’t get the total allowance amount, just what each task equaled. 

Greenlight dad Allen Anderson shared that he gives his daughter a baseline allowance every week, but he gives her the opportunity to earn more on a weekly basis by doing more chores. 

Allowance leads to smart habits

Greenlight kids who receive allowance save 26% more and donate 37% more money than those who don’t. This suggests that allowance, paired with parental guidance, leads to healthy financial habits.

Payouts made easy

When it comes to paying out allowance, it shouldn’t be complicated. Since remembering to get cash back at the grocery store or finding an ATM is a hassle, Greenlight has made it easier on parents by offering an auto-funding option.

Parents can set weekly or monthly allowance payments tied to chores within the Greenlight app, so funds can be easily distributed. 

To encourage good habits, parents can also allocate those allowances to their kids’ Spend, Save and Give accounts. 

Try Greenlight now

Sign up your family for Greenlight today! 

Greenlight Raises $54 Million to Empower Parents to Raise Financially-Smart Kids

Today, we announced $54 million in Series B funding. We’re thrilled to double down on our roadmap and reach even more families on our mission to empower parents to raise a generation of financially-smart kids. Full press release below.

Greenlight Raises $54 Million to Empower Parents to Raise Financially-Smart Kids

ATLANTA, September 16, 2019 – Greenlight Financial Technology, Inc. (“Greenlight®”), the fintech company on a mission to empower parents to raise a generation of financially-smart kids, announced today it has raised $54 million in Series B funding led by Drive Capital with participation from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Existing investors TTV Capital, Live Oak Bank and Relay Ventures also participated. The investment will fuel continued growth and accelerate the company’s development roadmap.

“Greenlight has built an incredible platform that makes it convenient and safe for parents and kids to manage their money. We’re proud to support their growth and help them on their mission,” said Chris Olsen, Partner at Drive Capital who has joined the Greenlight Board. “What attracted us to Greenlight is the scarcity of tech platforms empowering consumers to be more financially successful.”

Greenlight offers a debit card for kids that parents manage through the Greenlight app using flexible parental controls. The company has experienced rapid growth since launching its product in 2017, helping more than half-a-million parents and kids manage daily family finances. 

The Greenlight product allows parents to choose the exact stores where their children can spend, manage chores and allowances, set parent-paid interest rates on savings and more. Kids monitor balances, create saving goals and learn to make real world trade-off decisions.

“At Wells Fargo, financial literacy and helping our clients succeed is a part of our core values,” said C. Thomas Richardson, head of Strategic Partnership Investing at Wells Fargo. “Greenlight offers parents an opportunity to build that core competency of financial literacy in their child’s formative years, through its innovative, interactive and fully digitized product offering. We are impressed by Greenlight’s rapid growth, and we are excited to help fuel the next phase of its development.”

The Series B funding will accelerate Greenlight’s mission-driven roadmap to weave more educational layers into the app experience along with investing, to get kids familiar with the tools to build long-term wealth.

“We’re thrilled to partner with our Series B investors to bring Greenlight to millions of new families and help parents prepare their children for healthy financial futures,” said Tim Sheehan, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenlight. “In the near future, I hope that this generation of kids grow up to spend wisely, learn the importance of saving and feel confident investing to build wealth over the long-term.”

For more information on Greenlight, please visit greenlightcard.com, or follow Greenlight on Facebook and Instagram.

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About Greenlight:

Founded in 2014, Greenlight Financial Technology is an Atlanta-based fintech company that’s committed to empowering parents to raise financially-smart kids. Its groundbreaking family finance product, Greenlight®, is a debit card for kids that parents manage by app using flexible parental controls. Patent-pending technology enables parents to choose the exact stores where their children can spend, manage chores, set parent-paid interest rates on savings and more. Kids monitor balances, create saving goals and learn to make real world trade-off decisions.

The Greenlight Card is issued by Community Federal Savings Bank, member FDIC, pursuant to license by MasterCard International. For more information, please visit: greenlightcard.com.