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How To Keep Your Back To School Spending Under Control

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According to a recent survey conducted by PC Financial, parents are spending more and more on back-to-school supplies. While only 35 per cent of parents spent $500 or more per child during the 2015 holiday season, over half agree they will spend this amount per child on the upcoming back-to-school season. There are plenty of hidden costs that come along with the back-to-school season, but at the same time we want to make sure our kids are prepared to hit the classroom. How can you manage your budget effectively?

Tip One: Stay on trend with affordable fashion: Back-to-school clothes can mean big bucks for parents, especially when kids want the latest trends for their first day back. Staying on trend doesn't mean breaking the bank. There are a lot of affordable options available that offer essential style at exceptional value.

Tip Two: Come up with lunchbox ideas together: There's no bigger waste than seeing the sandwich you made the night before come back in its container at the end of the day. Healthy options are important, so consider coming up with a few new lunch ideas that they'll be excited to eat. Include your kids in the process and pick out and try a few recipes together so they feel invested in what they've prepared. If they never eat the fruit at lunch, save it for an after school snack or dessert.

Tip Three: Don't double up on supplies: Determine what needs to go to school and what is best kept at home. Supplies like staplers, tape and special writing tools tend to get lost or carried away easily in a classroom setting, so keeping them for home use helps ensure your kids always have them when needed.

Set out a space for homework and projects where these pieces can be easily stored and shared between all the students in your home. Make sure to check last year's knapsack first to see what can be salvaged. Make a list and discuss it with your kids first so if there is an "it's not fair" meltdown, it happens at home, and not in the store aisles.

Tip Four: Stay Tech-Savvy: Staying digitally connected with our kids is important, especially when they travel to and from school, and many schools have "Bring Your Own Device" guidelines as well. While there are tons of fancy plans out there, it's important to ensure you're only paying for what you really need and to have a plan which automatically stops your child from going over a pre-set amount. Ensure the proper security settings are in place for them as well.

Tip Five: Maximize value with rewards: You can leverage loyalty programs by doing your Back-to-School shopping all in the same place, and using an affiliated credit card which earns you rewards as you buy. Check your reward balances and include the savings you're expecting to receive into your budget.

Above all, speak to your children about your expectations in terms of what they really need, and what you will be spending. Teaching them about the value of money is a fantastic lesson to learn before they even step into the classroom.

From July 26th to July 28th, 2016 an online survey was conducted among 1,007 randomly selected Canadian parents of children aged 12-21 who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error--which measures sampling variability--is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to gender and region. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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