Looking to save some money this back-to-school season? Here are some tips

For years, Staples Canada has advertised back-to-school supplies to the tune of “It’s the most wonderful time of year,” with parents eager to see their children return to school after a busy summer.

But back-to-school supplies can add up fast, and parents already feeling the pinch of rising cost of living may need to strategize to tackle this shopping season.

More than one in three Canadians, or 36.2 percent, expect to spend more money this year compared to last year when it comes to back-to-school purchases, according to a survey released by Caddle in partnership with the Retail Council of Canada. Just over half think they will spend the same as last year and less than 14 percent said they will spend less.

And the expenses can add up quickly.

“No matter what you’re paying for when it comes to going back to school, even the smallest items can be overwhelming for some families, given rising inflation and the instability of our current economy,” said Alyssa Davies, founder of the Mixed Up Money website and author of “Financial First Aid.”

“Also, most of us have seen a huge increase in our groceries and other essentials, so shopping for new clothes or school supplies for the kids can feel overwhelming for some.”

Given the number of items in grocery stores that have increased in the past six months, it would be hard to believe that parents won’t spend more on school supplies simply because of inflation, he said.

For parents with young children, the costs can add up as parents are often shopping for everything for the first time, especially if their children are entering preschool or kindergarten.

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“You need backpacks, indoor shoes, lunch kits, etc.” Davis said.

“Although parents with older children can reuse supplies from previous years, technology is the biggest expense parents worry about. Whether it’s the school’s expectation of having a laptop of some sort or social peer pressure, it can stress families.”

Parents can feel strong pressure to make sure their children “fit in” and have the same brands, supplies and styles as other students, Davies said.

“Unfortunately, letting comparison dictate your spending habits is never a good way to stay on budget.”

Davies recommends that parents consider purchasing certain items secondhand or reusing older supplies from previous years if any remain.

“Even if your child has outgrown his ‘Paw Patrol’ obsession, that doesn’t mean he can’t use that backpack for another school year. I also recommend avoiding the higher priced stores as a first option and instead going to the dollar store to see if he can check off most of his list first.”

Janet Gray, money coach at Money Coaches Canada, said preparing parents for back-to-school expenses isn’t much different than helping them save for holiday shopping.

However, planning ahead is key.

For example, if parents know they’ll spend $500 per child on back-to-school expenses each year, Gray recommends setting aside $50 per month 10 months in advance so there’s less “pain and strain” in their day-to-day. – daily or monthly expenses.

Gray also advises parents to start their shopping with a predetermined amount that they’re ready to spend on essentials, and perhaps allow an extra $50 or so that can go toward necessities or upgrades to certain items like a name-brand folder, a backpack or jeans. .

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“Try to limit the wishes because the wishes could never end,” Gray added. And, if your kids are old enough, have a discussion about what’s most important to them so they can negotiate between their wants and needs. This might seem like keeping an old backpack in favor of a newer, more expensive item of clothing, she said.

You also don’t have to buy everything before school starts, Gray said. If some items can be staggered, you may find that you need less than you thought.

Surveys were conducted in June 2022 using Caddle’s mobile platform and an online panel. According to the generally accepted standards of the survey industry, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not take random samples of the population.

—Leah Golob, Canadian Press