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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

July 23, 2019 - 8:12am --

These hot days are a little more than I bargain for during the peak of summer, but I’m guessing when it’s below zero next winter, I’ll be wishing for a day like that!  Why is it that we always want things different than what we have, instead of being thankful for each day as a blessing?

When shopping, we’ve all seen the school clothes and supplies drawing us closer to fall.  Because these items can really be a significant impact on the budget, here are a few things to consider. Parents often try to keep family financial struggles hidden from their children, so as not to burden them with adult concerns. However, if you matter-of-factly explain to them that money is tight this year and you will have to cut back on some expenses, you can map out some money-saving strategies with them that could be life long skills for them to use. Help them to understand the difference between “wants” and “needs” by making a list and adding to it as you read the following points.

-- First, what can you use from last year? Take inventory in the closet and the drawers before making the list.  See what items (lunchbox, backpack, sports equipment, etc.) can be used again this year.

-- Determine how much money you can spend for each child for clothing and supplies. Note that this might not be an equal amount, depending on each child’s needs. Depending on the child’s age set a budget for them to use.  It’s really interesting to see how things change when they are spending “their” money instead of yours.

-- Work with your children to investigate the best bargains. If you have, say, $40 to spend on clothing, you might be able to find a good sale at a discount store to enable you to buy a pair of jeans, a pair or two of shorts and several shirts. Or, you could go to a thrift shop and use that money to buy double or triple the amount of clothing. Or you could find bargains at garage sales and possibly find you don’t even need the entire $40 to purchase what’s needed. Let your children help make the decision as to how to spend their allotted share. If one of the kids decides, for example, that he or she would prefer to buy brand new clothes instead of second-hand even though they will get fewer items, that’s a valid choice as long as they can find what they need and still stay within budget.

-- Make a list before shopping, and stick to it. It’s very easy to get swept away when you’re at the store or even at a yard sale and purchase items you don’t need. Have your list in-hand and focus on buying only the items on the list. Only when you finish getting everything you need should you allow yourself to splurge on the extras... and then only if you can remain in budget.

-- Realize that you don’t need to buy clothing for the entire school year in one fell swoop. Now is a good time because of back-to-school sales, but there will be other sales soon in the future, and today’s bargains might be discounted even more on tomorrow’s clearance racks.

--Depending on the child’s age, they may be able to work and contribute some money to the shopping.  If they desire specific items that are beyond the agreed budget, then they can use some of their money to make up the difference. 

Extension offers many financial education classes and a program called Master Money Mentors.  If you enjoy working with people, and have experience with budgeting and would like to volunteer in our mentoring program, I would love to talk with you.  Please give me a call at 330-264-8722 or contact me at


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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