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I’m not sure how it happened, but summer disappeared. Oh, the calendar may say it officially lasts until September 22nd, but every kid in Indiana will tell you: it’s over. Stores are packed full with back-to-school supplies, teachers are perfecting their classroom decor, and students are simultaneously excited and horrified at the thought of starting school in just a few days.

Here in the financial world, we’re probably more attuned to numbers than other people, so when we think about back-to-school time, it makes sense we’d immediately start doing the math. And in case you were not aware, having children can be expensive. Particularly when their school supply list seems to grow about a foot longer every year!

Instead of panicking, though, aim for making the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible, especially where your finances are concerned. Depending on the age and interest level of your kids, this can also be a great time to have financial conversations as a family.

To get the most bang for your buck this fall, try the following:

· Make a list of all supplies, clothes, and any other items your kids will need.

· Go through your house and determine how many of these items your family already has on hand, then update your supply list.

· Create a back-to-school budget based on this list, estimating how much money you will need to spend. Make sure your kids understand the limits they will have and encourage them to be creative in their choices.

· Highlight the priciest items (iPads, graphing calculators, backpacks, etc.) and focus on finding the best deals for them. This will involve doing a bit of research to see if there are coupons, rebates, or online-only deals to lower your costs.

· Many stores feature special sales on their social media sites, so it may be in your interest to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

· If you can hold off on some supplies, wait until after the back-to-school season is over to catch some highly marked down items.

As your kids head back to school, focus on your own financial education. Learning how to make and successfully follow a budget for a specific event can give you great confidence in the ability to budget in day-to-day life. And mastering budgeting skills is the first step on the road to financial wellness.

If you need help learning to budget, want icebreakers to start financial conversations with your family, or need to figure out how to manage your debt, contact our team at Shepherd Financial for free resources and assistance.

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