Back to school season is well underway. After a summer of weekends at the cottage, children enrolled in camps and dinners out on the town, your wallets may be feeling light. Getting the kids ready for school on a budget can seem daunting at first, but we have got a few simple ways to streamline the process and help you pinch a few pennies.
- Make a List: You cannot go shopping until you know what you need, so get cracking on that list. Some people find it useful to organize their list by child, while others prefer to organize it by store. The former is great if you have more than one child, but the latter might be easier you have only got one. Families with multiple children could also try organizing by child and then store. This will likely require a spreadsheet, so brush off those Excel skills. This may seem excessive on paper, but being organized down to the letter can save you multiple trips, which means less transit/gas money spent in total.
- Start by Shopping at Home: …and we do not mean online shopping. Before you even consider heading to a store, take an inventory of your current stock. Have your kids gather all of their school supplies and take off anything that is on your list that you already have. Some of the younger children will probably be able to score some hand-me-downs from their older siblings too.
- Set a Spending Limit for Older Kids: Your tweens and teens are probably going to want to do their own shopping. They will also likely want the latest and the newest of everything, so give them a firm spending cap. This is a great teachable moment to help them start learning about how to prioritize and budget their money. Whatever you do, try hard not to budge on the limit.
- Do Not Impulse Buy Electronics: For big ticket items like laptops, special software, phones and tablets, a little bit of research can save you a significant amount of money. Compare prices at different retailers and make sure to ask about coupons and discount codes. If you are open to shopping online, you are much more likely to get a better deal that way.
- Student Discounts: If you have got children attending University or College, textbooks and software are where the bulk of your budget will be heading. Many companies offer student discounts and rebates which typically require a University affiliated email address to cash in. And remember, rebates only work if you actually submit them, so do not buy and forget! Downloading e-textbooks and scouting the campus message board for used textbooks is also a great way to knock off hundreds of dollars off of your budget.
This year, do not let the back to school panic set in. Use these tips to help you get through the beginning of the school year with a full bank account