Make School Shopping A Lesson In Managing Money

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: August 10, 1998 This content is archived.


Back-to-school shopping provides parents with an opportunity to teach their children to be educated shoppers, says Arun Jain, Samuel P. Capen Professor of Marketing Research and chair of the Department of Marketing in the University at Buffalo School of Management.

Because children are influenced by advertising and peer-group pressure, Jain says they need to be taught to ignore brand names and to look for products that meet their needs at the best possible price. Jain offers the following additional tips:

• Give children a budget and help them set priorities. When it comes time to shop for back-to-school, families should sit down, figure out how much money there is to spend and make a list of exactly what items are needed in order of importance.

• Do not buy all items during one trip. Stores tend to put items on sale selectively.

• Do not buy all items in one store. Compare prices across stores and do not forget that factory-outlet stories offer good quality at attractive prices.

• Do not ignore thrift or consignment stores; young children outgrow clothes quickly.

• Do not be taken in by "sale" slogans. Frequently, advertised prices are discounted from a fictional recommended retail price.

• Avoid giving in and spoiling children on items like $200 sneakers because it doesn't prepare them to make smart shopping choices as they get older.

• Remember that the cheapest price is not always best if a child does not like the item or if the item is of poor quality and will have to be replaced.

• Buy seasonal items (scarves, gloves, boots, etc.) early instead of waiting until they are needed because consumers may end up paying a higher price when they are in season.

Reporters wishing to interview Jain may reach him at 716-645-3214 (office), 716-633-5932 (home) or via e-mail at