COLUMN: Back-to-school budgeting | New

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As school children in Oklahoma plan to return to school, parents may be feeling a little nervous about the back-to-school shopping frenzy and the added expense. The good news for caregivers is that there’s no need to blow the family budget. Doing advanced planning will add an important element of organization to your purchases. It will also help you control your spending and your mood.

Start by creating a budget for the amount the family wants to spend on school-related purchases. Consider costs such as instrument rental, school photos, and sports participation, as well as the cost of transporting students to and from school. Parents of high school students should anticipate and factor in the costs of senior photo shoots, college tuition, and dormitory needs.

After establishing the budget, family members should research their options based on the amount of funds available, and then come to an agreement on all purchases. Today’s technology makes it easy for consumers to find what they want at a price range that suits them. Equally important, negotiating the budget ahead of time gives families a chance to resolve any disagreements before heading to the store, where parents and caregivers may feel pressured to give in to demands in public.

If kids change their minds or want to add to the shopping list once they get to the store, parents need to help them make decisions that will keep them within the agreed-upon budget.

Try not to go shopping if you feel rushed or stressed. You also don’t want to wait too late, or take someone who is already upset or in a bad mood, because in those kinds of circumstances, you might end up spending too much or not achieving what you wanted to accomplish during your shopping excursion. .

Families looking to save a little money should pay attention to the sales, as well as the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s annual statewide sales tax exemption, August 6-8. . Clothing and footwear under $100 will be zero-rated. The small print also indicates that accessories, sports shoes and protective equipment are excluded. As in most states, rain checks are not valid. If an item sells during the tax-free weekend, so be it.

Finally, families can consider incorporating planned school expenses into the overall household budget as a wallet-friendly strategy that can reduce parents’ stress levels. Count up your expenses for this year, divide that amount by 12, and start setting aside that much money each month to cover next year’s costs.

Heather Winn is a Family and Consumer Science Educator for OSU’s Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.

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