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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

Valentine's Day On A Budget

What Will You do With Your Tax Cut?

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Q. I enjoy back-to-school shopping, but no matter how hard we try to avoid it, we always end up in debt. I don’t want to be paying for school supplies until December. Can you give us any suggestions to help us stay on track this year? 

A. Back-to-school shopping is the second biggest shopping season, eclipsed only by the Christmas season.  According to a study by Deloitte, 29 million households will spend an estimated 26 billion dollars on back-to-school shopping this year. Given this, it’s easy to see how back-to-school shopping can get out of control.  Still, with a few easy steps, it is possible to rein in your spending and avoid the back-to-school debt trap.

First, take an inventory of what you already have for each child. Start with clothing: what fits and what doesn’t? If clothes still fit and are in good condition, then you don’t need to replace them. Make a list for each child that reflects the clothing that he or she still needs. 

Next, inventory your school supplies. How many notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. do you have that are in good condition? When you have a handle on what you already own, download or pick up a school-supply list from your child’s school. (You may be able to pick one up at the store, too.) Compare what you have on hand to what you still need. 

Take your list of clothing and school supply needs and create one master list for each child. Assign a dollar amount to each item on the list and then tally it all up. If this amount exceeds what can afford to spend, you will need to revise the dollar amount and maybe even the list. Visit with each of your children and find out what is most important to them. Pare down your list to reflect each child’s priorities. Having a plan, in this case a written list, is half the battle.

When you’ve got a solid list, it’s time to shop. If possible, shop with one child at a time. Children often want what their siblings are getting, even it if doesn’t represent a need for them. Every child loves to have his or her parents’ undivided attention, and this is one of those opportunities. To keep emotions out of the equation, shop with your list in hand, and do not deviate from it. 

To get the best deals, watch for sales. And remember that you don’t necessarily have to purchase everything in a single trip. If your son or daughter has something new to start the school year, the rest may be able to wait. By waiting, your kids may change their minds or refine their priorities.

With a plan, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to put you in debt until the holidays. Most of what children learn about money, they learn by watching their parents. So when it comes to shopping for fall, ask yourself: Will my kids see that back-to-school shopping puts us in debt and creates stress, or will they see us take control of our back-to-school shopping with a realistic plan?

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.