How to Plan Back to School Shopping

Finally, an attack plan for the best of us.  Don’t let back to school shopping get you down.  Planning is the best way to get the most for your time and money. And when it comes to back to school spending, the goal is often to do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible. While it may seem too soon to start thinking about back to school shopping, it is right around the corner. Planning now will save you later.

Take a Look at What You Usually Spend

Take a look at your bank and credit card statements for the past few years to assess how much you usually spend. This information will help you set a budget for your children this year. Remember that school materials and supplies should be included in the budget along with clothing.

Take a Look at Your Current Budget

It’s quite possible that your financial situation is different than it was last year. Take a look at your current budget. How much can you afford to spend on back to school shopping this year? You may be able to spend more or you may have to spend less.

Additionally, knowing how much you spent last year can help you make good budgeting decisions this year. For example, if you know you spent $300 last year and can only afford $200 this year, you may be able to shift a few things in your monthly budget to find that extra $100.

Make a List of What You Need

How much have your children grown? What clothing do they need and what do they want? Make a list of the items they need and start prioritizing. Ask your children to get involved in this process. They can try last year’s clothing on and let you know which items they want to keep and which items are no longer appropriate.

What Stores Will You Visit?

As it gets closer to that inevitable shopping day, consider taking your child to thrift stores. Many used clothing stores sell brand name items that are in ideal condition. If your children are brand conscious, they may enjoy being able to purchase more for their money while still looking cool.

Give Them Cash

One of the best ways to stick to your budget and your shopping plan is to hand the budgeted amount to each child. Children have a tendency to go overboard when they’re shopping. They find that one brand name sweatshirt and spend half of their budget on it. Then they cry a few weeks later when they’re forced to wear the same shirt over and over again. They make much smarter buying decisions when they get to hold the cash in their hand. They tend to want to get more for their money – it almost becomes a game for them.

Decide when to Go

Finally, set the date. You can save a lot of money if you go school shopping about a month after school starts. Items go on sale and children are able to buy what the cool kids are wearing at school at a much lower price. If they absolutely must have a new outfit for school, then buy one outfit for that first day and then commit to taking them shopping in a few weeks when things go on sale.


Your Questions About Pay Off Credit Card With Another Credit Card

William asks…

What to do pay off another credit card or put money on the procedure I need to have done?

I paid off my 2 highest credit cards. I now have almost 1000.00 dollars tha I could put on the medical procedure Cosmetic and not covered with INSURANCE. or I can take the money and pay on a credit card that gives me low 1.99% interest until November? by the way this amount will pay all but 250.00 on that credit card. What to do? And by the way thank you to everyone who helped with previous question!

richmama answers:

To be in the best financial position in the future, you should put the $1,000 into the credit card and not use credit cards for something that is not needed right away. If you can save up enough to payoff the remainder of the credit card and pay cash for the procedure, you are golden.

Ask yourself this question: Would you borrow money from a friend or family to have this procedure done?

Ken asks…

Using a credit card to pay off another CC?

I have three credit cards:
One with ~17% APR, the other two are 0% APR.

I rarely use the other two (they don’t have a good “cash back” deal). Now, my question is, I’m having a little trouble paying my bills this month, and I don’t want to incur the high ~17% interest. So, can I just pay that CC off with one of my 0% APR?
Why 6 months?

And I pay off my CC debts every month in full, so never incur any of these penalties. It’s just this month I’m foreseeing having troubles.

richmama answers:

Sure you ‘can’, but that did not magically make your financial situation any better, nor pay down the debt that you incurred, just hid it someplace else. Not much of an advantage to getting ‘cash back’ if you are paying 17% on the outstanding balance?!? Unless you are getting back more each month then you are paying in interest then it is a waste to have that card.

Steven asks…

how do you pay off a credit card with another credit card?

I want to pay off one of my cards with another credit card so I can consolidate everything to the card with the lowest interest and so I don’t have to pay a monthly balance for two cards. When I click Make a Payment, it asks for checking account information like bank account number, routing number etc. but I don’t want to pay by checking. How can I do this?

richmama answers:

Call up the credit card company you are going to be transferring your balance to and ask them for some checks to do this. Or, they may have another way that they make this convenient. Just be careful by putting the other balance over on the card, that you aren’t going to be getting over 50% of the available limit on your card. That may trigger them to jack up the interest or minimum payment.

Mandy asks…

Can you pay off a credit card with ANOTHER credit card?

Can you pay off a credit card with ANOTHER credit card?

richmama answers:

It’s usually called a Balance transfer and if you’re a good customer with a decent credit score the credit card companies will often have lower APRs for the transfered balances. Sometimes a Balance transfer fee is applied as well.

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Your Questions About How To Live On A Tight Budget 2010

Donna asks…

October 2010 10 yr wedding anniversary & 40th B-day?

October 2010, our 10 year wedding anniversary, & my husbands 40th birthday, any suggestions, ideas, how to celebrate (on a budget). Party with friends? Vacation alone somewhere? Got to start saving now! Have 2 kids, & on tight budget.
We live in Winnipeg, MB, Canada so weather might be nice..or not.
My husband is leaning towards time alone together. I would like both.
(but some family members/friends don’t get along)

richmama answers:

I would say make it a second honeymoon, which means alone time. My guess is with 2 kids you don’t have an abundance of it, so take advantage of the chance. While you are away plan a special evening for him as a birthday surprise – whether that would be a night out or in, a special dinner, trip to a place nearby that particularly interests him, etc.

Good Luck and have fun!

Lizzie asks…

I need to improve my financial situation?

Where to start?

what is counted as debt? I live in Canada

I am on a very tight budget of $2010. where my my school check 1260 goes straight to rent (1189) and im left with 70 buckish! i have two young children, where i recieve 750 in benefits for them…lately some of this has been going to bills because my rent cheque sucks!. i have nothing saved. I am fortunate enough to put at least one toy under the tree this year for my children…
but i need help with saving ideas and which debt i should pay off first.
my other sources of money are either scholarships and bursaries, which i havent had any lately…
can you give me some suggestions on how to start here….i am trying to do this differently as 2010 is coming up soon
I get funded a living allowance from my first nations post secondary support program
i cant move until July, im screwed on a damn lease.

richmama answers:

It would appear you need to find at least part-time employment. You have 2 children and you are hardly more than a child yourself. If you do not form a healthy relationship with money, you will NEVER have any.

Life on the public dole is NOT the way to go…but that is where you appear to be heading…

Thomas asks…

How to have sensible conversation about moving out with irrational parents?

Here is the background information:
I am a 22 year old female, both working and in college. I got a late start to college due to family and personal issues (through no fault of my own), so I still have 2 years left on a bachelor’s degree. For the school year of 2009-2010, I went away to a university and it sucked really bad, I became depressed, isolated, and unable to succeed in classes. Consequently I was invited, and encouraged to move back in with my mother and stepfather, and commute to a closer college for the remainder of my college education. I am currently doing pretty well in school and in life. However, my parents home is a very stressful place to live, because my stepfather (though he can be very nice and helpful) can make things difficult. He has had a bad year, including the death of his elderly mother, the removal of a cancerous growth, and a forced retirement from his job; and when he is stressed out he tends to project his emotions on me. Despite my attendance of college, steady employment in a semiskilled medical field, efforts to help out around the house and keep things tidy, I feel he acts inappropriately toward me. He frequently comments (just “jokes” he says) about me moving out, and suggests in one way or other that I am irresponsible, hard to deal with, a burden, and strain on his marriage. He has extremely stringent rules about what objects should go where, which seem to change constantly, and acts passive aggressively when these “rules” are broken. For example, I had put a pair of my shoes in the front hall closet (a place it seems shoes should go), and later found them placed neatly in my bed sheets. I asked him in a non-accusing tone if he had put them there, and he denied it up and down. I asked my mother as well, who I know well enough to believe when she said it was not her. There are dozens of similar situations that take place on a daily basis. In essence, I am constantly worried about the next thing I’m going to unknowingly do wrong, and what his reaction is going to be. We have had “family” discussions on the matter, and the final outcome is always: It’s his house, he makes the rules, end of story. I have been feeling an increasing disconnection with my mother due to this, and feel it is time to get out and live independently. One of the problems with this is that every time I discuss with them how I feel uncomfortable living here and am looking into moving out, they get really frantic and tel me that I am not capable of moving out, that I have to stay here, and that they really don’t want me to move out. Their actions do not match their words at all, and living here is causing more stress that living on my own with a tight budget.
Here is the current Situation:
Since I have been unsuccessful at talking to them about moving out in the past, I have no idea how to approach them about this subject. I am currently signing a lease with a friend for an apartment a few miles away, still close to my work and school. I have bought and paid for my own car, so transportation is not a problem. We will be moving in in about 2 months. Before I tell them I am moving out I plan to have a full budget completed, so they will be aware that I am in fact responsible and able to afford it (though money will be tight). My student loan is in my own name, with my mother as the cosigner. She has offered to pay the 30$ a month interest for it, without my asking. I don’t have any fears that she will withdraw any and all financial help, she’s not that type of person. I generally don’t rely on them financially, anything they pay for me is of their own will.
How do I have a reasonable, adult discussion with them, when I haven’t been able to in the past?
Am I the one who is being irrational?
Any tips on moving out in general?
Has anyone had a similar situation, and have any advice what what to do/what not to do?
How do I proceed if they have an extremely negative reaction?
How do I keep my cool in this extremely irritating situation?
Feel free to ask questions if you feel I left something out, and to leave any comments or advice you have.
Serious answers would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

richmama answers:

Don’t trouble yourself any longer. Sure, make out your budget, but only for yourself so you know what you’re getting yourself into with the move & all.
You need to get outta there. You are an adult & they are not.
Bottom line: if they haven’t been rational with you yet, they never will be.
Sounds like they both like playing head games with you & are into manipulating you at every turn. Maybe you’re just too articulate & they just don’t get it. It’s not your fault.
If there’s a history of crappy times & they haven’t been able to come out more mature because of them, then they are a lost cause. JUST LEAVE.
If you reread your story, listen to yourself: it really sounds like you are giving them excuses for their erratic behaviors, especially step dad. They’ve made you believe that you cannot make it on your own…well, obviously you can. You are a student aren’t you? You’re doing well with that, right? Well, are “they” there doing the work for you? NO! So, you need to realize that moving out at the age of 22 is completely doable.
Moving out will be the best thing you can do for yourself.
No, you are not being irrational.
Moving out tips: make use of the items you have, you don’t need everything at first, especially since you are involved with school & a job, SAVE as much money as you can each month, enjoy yourself too.
If “they” react badly to your news, TOUGH! If you continue to listen to them & stay, you’ll be asking us all this same question again when you’re 25, 30 & on! It doesn’t sound like they are gonna be ready to hear it anytime soon, so just get it over with.
Keep your cool: tell them right before you have to go to school or work while you have you purse on your shoulder & keys in hand. Then just go.
You must believe in yourself, that you can do this on your own. You seem to have a pretty level head on your shoulders. At least YOU know the kind of adult you want to be…thanks to the “grownup kids” in your life.

Mark asks…

Does this sound like a good deal to you?

So I’m engaged to be married on September of 2010. I’m inviting about 150 people, including children, of which I may expect 100. I’ve been doing some research and I think (not sure yet) that I found a really good place. There is this hall that I found that only charges $600 (best deal so far, close from my house). Most places charge $2000 and up. But there’s this other place that I found that offers me this:

Hall for up to 500 people for 5 hours (I can choose a smaller hall for 125 ppl).
Decorated Food Line that Includes:
Beef or Pork Entree
Chicken Entree
Pasta, Rice, or Potatoes
Seasonal Vegetables
Green Salad
Two Dressings
Four Prepared Salads
Rolls and Butter
Iced Tea, Coffee, and Water
Includes all linens, china, crystal, flatware and servers.

All this for $23.35 per person (I’m ordering 150), plus tax and gratuity.

The thing is, I would have to rent security (two people), a dance floor (from them for only $175), a licensed bartender, and I would have to get a liability insurance. Also, I may need two extra hours from the hall which will cost me $500 (250 each additional hour).

Does this sound like a good deal? How much (approximately) would the security, bartender, and insurance would be. I live in Bakersfield, CA if that helps.

I’m on a very tight budget and at this moment I’m still deciding whether to have catered food or homemade :S

richmama answers:

Ha…I live between you and Fresno!

$23.35 isn’t bad per person. I was trying to go a cheaper route and ended up spending way more money. Try adding up ALL the cost and dividing it by the number of people you want.

Also, a lot of people probably won’t come. I invited about 220 people to mine and had about 140 actually come to the wedding.

If you are having a lot of kids, find out if they can do a kid buffet for cheaper. Chicken nuggets, pizza etc. That could cut the cost a lot!

The security, bartender and insurance all came with my venue and caterer but the venue should have an estimate for you or be able to give you names of some of them.

Most likely, you will be able to have the room with 125 people if a lot rsvp no which could also save you money!

Good luck and Congratulations! I got married September 2009, great month!

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