Back-to-school shopping can get out of control. Rein it in with these five tips.
According to the Huffington Post, parents of school-aged children spend an average of $650 on back-to-school supplies for their family every year. Approximately two thirds of that goes towards clothing and electronics. The rest goes towards supplies like pencils and notebooks. Not surprisingly, as the level of study increases, so to do the costs.
$650 for a household is a lot of money. For some, it’s the equivalent of a mortgage or loan payment, or a month’s worth of groceries. So, it’s important for parents to plan in advance and be resourceful. Resourcefulness can come in the form of cashing in loyalty points, utilizing unused gift cards or simply shopping when products go on sale, rather than all at once.
The other important factor to keep in mind is that school isn’t a fashion show. So, put your money towards the most important elements of your child’s learning such as having the correct, not necessarily the “fanciest”, computer software.
If your family is feeling the financial squeeze of back-to-school, follow these five tips:
- Take an inventory of what you already have prior to shopping. Duplicating supplies costs money and harms the environment. And, in most cases, dusting off an old binder can make it look new again.
- Shop in stores with concrete floors…or online. Many wholesalers offer excellent back-to-school bulk buying opportunities on pencils, notebooks, clothing and electronics.
- Space out your shopping throughout the year. There’s no need to load up with everything all at once. New running shoes can be purchased on Boxing Day and binders can be purchased at the end of September.
- Avoid shopping in the US. This was a popular trend amongst parents when the exchange rate was more favourable. But with the slide in the value of the Canadian dollar, all school supplies in the US are now approximately 30% more expensive. Trust us, pencils are the same no matter which side of the border you’re on.
- Share electronics. If you’ve got young children, it’s unlikely they need their own computer or iPad. So, share with the rest of the family.
The most important thing for parents is to have a plan and budget prior to shopping. If Junior wants more than what you can afford, talk to him about why you keep to a budget by putting it into understandable terms such as “if we spend too much today on new clothes, we won’t be able to afford nutritious lunches.”
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