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Back to school: our tips to avoid emptying your wallet

The famous back to school season… The vacation period is barely over when it’s time to buy school supplies for your children. This can cause a lot of headaches for parents!

Here are our tips for easing this time of year!

Be prepared:

  • Check the school’s list and limit yourself to what is listed.
  • Take inventory of items you have saved from the previous year that can be reused (pencils, sheets, glue sticks, scissors, etc.). Check to see if there are any items used by the older child that the younger child can use.
  • Store around and compare prices at two or three places. By the end of August, you may be able to take advantage of some great sales. Don’t limit yourself to office supply stores and stationery stores! Big box stores and drugstores are full of cheap school supplies.
  • Buy quality items, they last longer! School bags, pencil cases, lunch boxes…
  • Trade with friends and family.
  • Recuperate! Why not use the backs of papers that are no longer in use as scrap paper for the kids’ exercises?

 

Go shopping… with or without the kids?

If possible, make it a priority to store without the kids. It will be much easier to stick to the list.

If you must store with the kids, this is an opportunity to introduce them to the basics of budgeting. Give them specific items to buy and the budget to stick to. They’ll be proud to do it!

 

What about clothes?

The temptation to renew the kids’ wardrobe is strong? Make sure you take inventory of what’s still in the closet before you believe the popular saying “I have nothing to wear! We bet you’ll be able to salvage a few pieces!

Take advantage of sales throughout the year to spread out spending over a longer period. You don’t have to buy everything at once! Many parents buy their children’s winter coats and boots during the spring end-of-season sales in preparation for next winter. However, you have to be careful because kids grow up fast!

Remember, you don’t always have to buy new. Visiting thrift stores or second hand stores can save you money. Online classifieds are also very convenient and allow you to store for used items from the comfort of your home. Trading with cousins or friends who have older children is also a good way to fill drawers without emptying your pockets.

 

Other expenses… 

Don’t forget to plan for daycare and transportation costs, as well as the cost of school activities and outings.

Since school days are often predictable, remember to budget for babysitting. You can also coordinate your days off with these events. Finally, if other parents are doing the same thing, why not get along with them? Taking turns babysitting the same group of children would save everyone money.

 

Better safe than sorry…

The key to success is organization. Back-to-school is a recurring event, and the expenses associated with it can be anticipated. It is therefore a good idea to include them in the annual family budget. By setting aside a sum of money each month, you will not be caught unprepared the next time school starts.

 

To help you identify the amount to save each month for the next school year, we have developed a budget grid specifically for these expenses. Download it here!

 

But there’s always credit, right?

We can’t say it enough, planning is what will help you achieve and maintain good financial health. Scheduling a small amount of money each month rather than waiting until the last minute will take the stress out of your life and help you avoid using credit to meet expenses. Because credit is expensive! For example, if you only pay off the minimum required amount on a $300 bill, before paying off the entire amount on your credit card, you will have to wait 3 years and 6 months and these purchases will cost you $117.45 more in interest! You will have paid $417.45 instead of the $300.00 you expected to pay*.

 

Happy shopping and back to school!

 

If you feel overwhelmed by your finances or don’t know how to get started on a project, don’t hesitate to call us! We offer free budget consultations!

*www.opc.gouv.qc.ca/en/credit-cards-minimum-payment-maximum-interest/