Back to School Challenge


Parents.  I know you can’t believe it.  But you’re already seeing the daunting “BACK TO SCHOOL” bright yellow colors in the store.   The summer just started didn’t it?  And now it’s over.   You may be excited. You may be bummed.  But if you have kids in traditional public or private school…you have a longer-than-ever “Back to School” Supply list.

Regardless of how you feel about the list…it’s always there.  Don’t blame the teachers.  Everyone knows, teachers spend their own money throughout the year on supplies. Just forget the politics and save the “my tax dollars already paid for this” pitch for a second.

Hear me out.

Before you head to Target or Wal-Mart…..STOP!  Please.  Stop.

I’m telling you ….you’re missing a great opportunity.    Why is this YOUR job?

Give this job to your children.

Don’t let this teachable moment slip by!  I’m challenging you parents to do “Back to School” shopping different this year.

I’m giving you a #BacktoSchoolChallenge

If you’ve never talked to your kids about money. Let’s start now.

Let’s start with school supplies.

It’s easy.  You can make it fun.

Do you accept this challenge?    GREAT!

  •  Get your school supply list early.
  • Give each child a specific cash budget for their supplies.   Depending on their age – they might have their own money.
  • Block out time for “School Supply” shopping.  If possible, don’t combine this with other household shopping so you can focus and be ready to help your new shopper.
  • Bring a calculator.   Not your phone.   Give them an actual 1995 calculator.
  • If you’d like – tell them anything they don’t spend they can KEEP or put towards a specific goal.  Or whatever you have left, we can go get ice cream!  It’s great motivation!

What NOT to do:

  • Give them an inflated or overly stingy budget.  Make it realistic but also challenging.
  • You must use cash.  No plastic will work.   You want them to FEEL and actually interact with money.  I know it’s archaic.  But multiple studies have proved (repeatedly) people spend MORE with plastic and interact differently with actual cash.   This financial challenge is significantly diluted using plastic.
  • Don’t be rushed.
  • Please don’t hover over them – correcting each moment.  Depending on their age, let them finish this challenge.  If they can read – they can do this.   Help when required – but back OFF.
  • Don’t take this overboard.   If they get close and need a few dollars for taxes — please don’t be crazy.

There are SO many teachable moments built into this challenge.   Example: If you give each child $30 to spend, you might have one who blows the ENTIRE budget on name brand items.   You might have another child who asks to visit the Dollar Store after seeing prices at Target.   As their parent – this will HELP you teach your children accordingly.

If you see your child has a tendency towards frivolous spending…you can gently re-direct them and discuss implications of that habit.  If your child leans towards hoarding or stinginess – you can address that as well.

You can do various aspects of the challenge depending on your school arrangement.  Homeschool, private, public, charter…. everyone can accept the #BacktoSchoolChallenge.

As parents – it’s our job to teach kids about finances.  It’s not their teacher’s job.  It’s not the government’s.

It’s 100% YOUR job.

Use “Back to School” shopping as a great way to start the conversation.

If you accept this challenge please share this post and hashtag #BacktoSchoolChallenge so I can follow the stories. Take photos of your child practicing and interacting with actual cash like it’s the 1880s.

Have fun!



  1. Brendie, as you know we no longer have kids that we need to worry about getting school supplies for (but will in a couple of years for our grandsons), but I stand and applause you!!! Excellent article!!! We never did this with our boys for back to school supplies, but we did give them budgets for other things, like spending money when we went on vacation. They learned valuable lessons on spending.

    • Oh Nola! Your words mean SO much to me! Thank you so much for taking the time to encourage me! I appreciate your support! I sincerely hope this #BacktoSchoolChallenge takes off and parents snag this opportunity!

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