Back-to-School Shopping: How To Avoid Guilt About Saying ‘No’

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The back-to-school shopping season is an expensive time to be a parent. A recent GOBankingRates survey found that among those who will be shopping for back-to-school, one-third will be spending between $200 and $400 this year. That’s a large expense as is; but, when you go shopping with your kids, you may be tempted to spend even more than you had planned if your kids ask for items that are not on your shopping list or that cost more than you had budgeted for. It’s important to remember that it’s OK to say “no” — and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with money-saving expert (and mom) Andrea Woroch about how to avoid guilt about saying no to your kids during the back-to-school shopping season.

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What To Consider Before Saying ‘Yes’ to an Unplanned Purchase

As you’re perusing the aisles, it’s likely your child will ask whether you can buy them something that catches their eye that isn’t on your list. But before saying “yes,” there are two things you should consider, Woroch said.

Make Your Money Work for You

“Figure out how much you can afford to spend on school purchases without taking on debt and look around your home to see what your child has left over from last year that can be used for this upcoming school year,” she said. “Gather all these items; and, if you already have something your child wants, there is no need to buy a replacement.”

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Use Back-to-School Shopping To Teach Kids Valuable Lessons About Money

“This is a crucial time to teach him or her an important budgeting lesson and the value of spending,” Woroch said.

If you have to say “no” to a purchase that’s out of budget or unnecessary, use this as a teachable moment.

“Explain that the money saved on this item can go towards another,” Woroch said. “If you just give in, you are actually doing a major disservice to your child that can have negative impacts on how they spend in the future.”

Make Your Money Work for You

You can use this as an opportunity to teach your child about budgeting and how to make smart choices when shopping.

“It all comes down to a budget and having your children work with you to make sure you get everything you need within that spending plan or amount,” Woroch said. “But just because something is pricey doesn’t mean your child can’t have it. This is a great time to show your son or daughter how they can find alternatives that are more affordable, whether by opting for store brands, shopping at local consignment stores or looking at open-box or refurbished options.

“They will be amazed at how much more they can get when they shop savvy. Even my young children understand that they don’t get everything they ask for. I bring them with me to shop sales, look for coupons and search the clearance section.”

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Saying ‘No’

Even if you have good reason to say “no” to a purchase and explain this reasoning to your child, you may still feel a sense of guilt — but you shouldn’t.

Make Your Money Work for You

“Remember that saying ‘no’ doesn’t hurt your child,” Woroch said. “On the contrary, saying ‘no’ to endless requests for new purchases is essential to establishing smart spending habits in your child, which he or she will use later in life to build a more secure financial life.”

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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