It’s the most wonderful time of the year for parents of school-aged children!
But is it really? With the happiness of sending kids back to school comes the concern about the cost of it all. Each year the cost of clothing and school supplies goes up as schools put more and more of the cost back onto the parents. And those school supplies lists aren’t getting any shorter!
Janet Gray — Financial Planner and Money Coach — offers up a few great money-saving tips we can all apply before sending the kids off to school.
9 Tips to Avoid the Back-To-School Money Pit
1. As you start thinking of back-to-school shopping, include your kids while you plan your budget. Rather than going into debt to buy everything they need right now, find out what’s important to them. What you think is important to your child, may be further down their list.
2. Before you go shopping take inventory of what you have at home and can be re-used from the previous year. There may be leftovers from older children or even office supplies from parent’s home offices/businesses.
3. Start with a list — many schools provide these at the end of the school year or on their websites — and stick to it. Don’t buy extra items that aren’t on the list because you may not end up using them. Save extra money for important things like caffeine to fuel homework sessions. The school supplies lists can be one-size-fits-all, so check with your child to gauge the likelihood they will use the items listed.
4. Buy certain items like pencils, pens, or folders in bulk. Find other parents who need similar supplies when you buy in bulk to rack up even bigger savings. Watch the flyers, shop early, and try a clothing swap to kit out kids in new-to-them outfits.
5. Shop at the dollar store, use coupons and online price matching to do one stop shopping, and save time running around from store to store. Many of the larger big box stores (think Walmart and Superstore) will honour price matching. And check out the coupon app Flipp. It’s an unbeatable resource!
6. Avoid or minimize trends. Balance name brands with basic, trendy clothing items. Spend the money on one or two big brand items, but don’t shy away from purchasing lesser known names to allow the budget to work.
7. Use cash not credit and stick to your budget. Save receipts to return unused or unsuitable products. Better yet, save a little each month throughout the year so when spending time comes, you already have the money. Much easier to save $50 every month than to find $600 in August!
8. Follow companies you like on social media that reward their loyal followers with exclusive coupons and advance notices of sales. Check out Staples and Best Buy on Facebook or Twitter for the essentials.
9. Plan lunch menus in advance and make sure you have the food and containers needed to make it work.
Have a plan, stick to it, and don’t stress. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!