Amy: Parents with kids in school are estimated to spend around $668 on back to school shopping this year. That's per child. It's a lot of cash. So to help save some money and to use his experience as a way to teach our kids about good financial habits, we're here with financial adviser Matthew Stout of Stout Bowman and Associates in Camp Hill. Matt, thanks so much for coming in.
Matthew: Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Amy: Okay, so we first tell people, "You need to budget for situations like this." If they haven't budgeted or if they did budget, what's your biggest advice when it comes to planning ahead?
Matthew: Planning ahead, obviously you wanna have some emergency reserves for the unexpected, but things like back to school, vacations, you know these things are coming. And so rather than trying to come up with a few hundred dollars or $1,000 very quickly, $50 a week, $50 a month over the course of the year, gets you there very, very quickly, and it's a lot less stressful to come up with $50 than $1,000.
Amy: Exactly. A lot of schools have already started, kids are going back next week. So if you're against the wall right now, it's something to think about next year. You have three kids. You've already started back to school shopping. They're pretty much wrapping up. They're gonna be heading to class soon. What are some of the tips that you have for parents out there?
Matthew: Parents, heading back to school, if you haven't done the shopping yet, obviously, you first want to plan. Get the school list of the supplies they're going to need, and then pull out the Sunday paper, look at the ads, see who has the best bargains out there for you as well. One thing you want do is make your list ahead of time, so you don't get caught up in the buying frenzy, and you end up with a lot of extra things that maybe aren't necessary, but end up in the cart by the time you get to the register, and you end up buying them anyhow.
Amy: And you were saying, it's almost good to take, if you have several children, take one at a time.
Matthew: Absolutely, that's what we did. I mean my wife Heather took all of our kids out individually so they could spend kind of their own money. We gave them a certain dollar amount and said, "Here are the things you need. Anything that's left, you can spend on things that you'd like to have." And it kind of teaches your kid responsibility for when they're making their own decisions, especially with smaller dollar amounts, they get very comfortable with that, and as they get to be adults, they continue to make good decisions with dollars.
Amy: And it's a good learning experience, especially when they say kids emulate what their parents do, so if they see mom and dad just swiping the plastic, that's not a good memory to have.
Matthew: Exactly. Anybody who has kids will tell you that kids are watching you all the time. Even when you think they're not watching, they're watching and they're learning. So when it comes down to using credit cards, or you use cash, one of the things we always kind of stress is, if you're using credit cards because you get points, you get miles, you get cash back, that's one thing. If you can pay that balance off every month, okay I understand how that works. If you're carrying a balance and you're paying on it, but you don't still remember what the initial purchase was, that's a sign you're using the credit card incorrectly and should probably just stop those.
Amy: All right. And a great conversation to have with your kids as well, get them in that learning mode before school starts.
Amy: All right, Matt, thanks so much. We appreciate it. We have all this information on our website, fox43.com, so you can find out more.