Back-to-School Budget Basics

Six tips to earn an A+ in back-to-school budget shopping

Back-to-School BudgetAnother summer has quickly flown by, and a new school year is just around the corner.   And while sending the kids back to class may come as a refreshing change for most parents, the high cost of back-to-school shopping can easily drain your bank account.

Backpacks, school supplies, new clothes and other must-haves can quickly add up.  In fact, back-to-school is one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.  Last year alone, Canadian families spent upwards of $543 on back-to school shopping, and according to Ernst & Young, that spending is expected to increase by 4% this year.

With most Canadian families owing more money than they earn, parting with an extra $500 dollars from their monthly budget simply won’t make the grade!

Parents and students alike need to take action now in order to plan and budget wisely for their back-to-school needs.  When it comes to education, it’s all about get ahead…but failing to plan and spend wisely could easily send your budget into the red.

To help Canadian families plan for the first day of class,  Consolidated Credit offers these tips to help you earn an A+ in back-to-school shopping:

1. Set a spending budget – Take a close look at your budget and current financial situation. Once you have determined your available cash flow, set aside a reasonable amount to spend on school supplies. Ideally you have been tucking away a small amount each month to cover back-to-school expenses. If you haven’t, now is the time to add “back-to-school” as a line item and start saving for next year.

2. Make a list – Based on the list provided by the school, and the items your kids have asked for, make a list of all the supplies they will need to start the school year off on the right foot. Once you have made the list, stick to it!  Last-minute impulse buys and unnecessary items can easily result in a budget fail.

3. Take stock – Do your kids have clothes and supplies from last year that you can reuse? If clothes still fit, or shoes and jackets can go a few more months, it may be worthwhile to eliminate these items from your list.  By waiting until supplies and clothing ‘need’ to be replaced, you can stretch your back-to-school budget further.

4. Comparison shop – Take the time to determine what your back-to-school needs typically cost. For older kids, this is a great exercise for them to learn the value of a dollar and prioritize their back-to-school needs and wants.  Shopping flyer and couponing sites is a great way to find great deals and make your back-to-school dollars go further.  Apps like Flipp allow you to search multiple flyers and find the best deals.

5. Don’t replace their wardrobe – Remember, kids grow quickly. There is no need to replace your child’s entire wardrobe each September.  Stick to buying only what they need and look for sales before you head out shopping.  For the kid that ‘needs’ to have brand name clothes for back-to-school, consider shopping at consignment store.  These boutiques often sell gently used designer clothes for far less than they would cost new.

6. Treat it as a teachable moment – Last, but not least, use back-to-school shopping as an opportunity to teach your child about the value of money and the importance of budgeting. Get them involved in everything from creating their budget and comparison shopping, to making product decisions and purchasing the items.  By teaching them how to spend and shop wisely from a young age, you can set them on the path to future financial success.


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