Beware Back to School Budget Busters

back to school budget

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. Alice Cooper once said that he wrote the song “School’s Out (for Summer)” because he thought the last few minutes of the school year represented the best moments of his life. He figured if he could capture that feeling in a song, it’d be a solid gold hit.

Sadly, nothing gold can stay. Parents know back-to-school spending is just around the corner, and they wince at the thought. According to the BMO Back to School Survey, spending has been continually rising. In 2012, Canadian parents planned an average back to school budget of $362 per child. In 2013, that number rose by 18.2 per cent when parents budgeted $428 per child.

Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada would like to help curb their spending in 2014. Teacher’s dirty looks might be free, but books and pencils aren’t. Here are some tips to help you reign in your back-to-school budget:

  • What do you need – The wish list from children can be endless. And sometimes, that list is from their own imagination. For the straight goods, contact your child’s school to see what’s really required.
  • Involve the kids – Get out a flyer and a stack of monopoly money. Have your children do their own shopping, and reward frugality by allowing them to keep a portion of what they save.
  • Hunt for treasure – You probably purchased too many notebooks last year, or there’s that pack of pens you bought when you only needed one. Root through your desk or junk drawers and see if you can lighten your spending load by supplying your kids with perfectly good materials that you already have.
  • Ignore the hype – Summer blockbuster films mean an endless parade of merchandise. Your child doesn’t need the latest greatest superhero schoolbag, particularly when last year’s superhero schoolbag is still in great shape. If they really want the name brand backpack, what are they willing to sacrifice? Help them learn the distinction between needs and wants.
  • Tag-team at the bulk stores – Sometimes bulk stores can lead to bad decisions – your entire week’s grocery budget can be spent on a year’s supply of coffee beans. However, you can turn bulk store pitfalls into windfalls by getting together with friends with children to buy in bulk. If you shop smart, you can cash in on some big savings.

Don’t be a slave to your school supply list. Employ the same scrutiny that you would on any household purchases, and with a bit of ingenuity, your bank account will be as happy as you are when your kids come home with an A+ on their math test.

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