Written by guest blogger: Hiroko Nakao
How to Get an A+ in Back-to-School Savings
Don’t tell your children – but summer is past the mid point and quickly approaching the new school year! When I was a kid, there was nothing I hated more than the realization that my summer holidays were coming to an end. I suspect most parents have somewhat mixed emotions at this time of year. On the one hand, they get to spend more quality time with their kids. On the other hand, there’s the cost of summer camps and daycare, and maybe even the cost of taking time off of work to spend that prized quality time with their children. I suspect my mom was always a little relieved when summer holidays were over and my brother and I had to go back to school.
Not only do parents have to fork over money to pay for constantly growing school fees, but they also have to deal with the financial burden of purchasing calculators, binders, pencils, musical instruments, gym clothes, etc. Store flyers often start to advertise back-to-school deals as early as July! This raises the question – are there any effective strategies out there to check off the list of school supplies without hurting your wallet?
Canadians tend to spend an average of $428 per child on back to school items. Is it really necessary to spend this much money on getting ready for school? Here are some ideas before you start your shopping:
- Inventory: Check out what you have from the previous year. You may have items that could still be put to good use.
- Organize a clothing swap party: Get together with your neighbors who have school age children and plan a clothing swap party. Kids grow up quickly so that some clothes may still be in good shape even though they may no longer fit. Why don’t you recycle them within your family, friends, and neighborhoods?
- Look for community resources: Check out the City of Calgary website or call 3-1-1 for assistance on school supplies that may be available for low-income Calgarians. Community bulletin boards and newspapers may also have information about similar back-to-schools programs.
- Budget! Budget! Budget!: Make a spending plan with your kids and stick to it. This is a great way to talk about Needs vs. Wants with your children. Take a FREE Budgeting and Consumerism workshop at Momentum to prepare for your back-to-school budgeting and shopping strategies!
- Shop around and shop smart: Keep your eyes open for good deals. Buy in bulk and split the costs with parents of neighbor kids or classmates of your children. You may also want to wait until the end of September or the beginning of October to purchase the majority of your school supplies. The prices can be a lot cheaper at that time.
- Save your money for the next year: Start a back-to-school savings plan this year so that you will not be caught off guard when the school year begins next year.
Let’s be creative and proactive about back-to-school shopping. Smart planning will reduce stress and keep more money in your pocket. If you have any of your own ideas on back-to-school saving strategies, please feel free to share them.