Love it or hate it, the kids are heading back to school in less than a month, and while over 50 per cent of Canadians are looking forward to getting back to a routine, more than one-third cite expenses as the number one stressor when it comes to back-to-school shopping, according to a recent poll by Ebates.ca.
As for spending habits, almost half (45 per cent) of Canadians shell out between $100-$200 per child, and nearly one-in-four spend more than that. Here are the top five money-saving tips to help you stay on budget and make the best of the back-to-school transition this year.
Start a family budget battle. Start with a list of what the kids will need for the new school year and establish how much they have to spend. Then, break into teams and search your favourite stores online with the parents as the team captains. Teach them how to stretch a dollar; by taking advantage of sales, promo codes or cash back deals, they can get more bang for their buck. Whoever gets all the items on the list while sticking to budget - or even being under - gets an additional item on the 'want' list. Educational fun for the whole family!
Think outside the box. Check out summer clearance or look for savings on open box/refurbished items that kids will need during the school year, especially on big-ticket goods like tech accessories. Scour local classified sites or weekly yard sales to find deals (and save taxes) on anything from furniture to clothing. Parents helping their post-secondary kids move into dorms or housing can search for great travel deals on Groupon for hotels near the campus.
Don't dis discount. Let's get real: kids, especially younger ones, don't need to shop at premium stores. Discounters such as Amazon carry a wide range of perfectly good quality school supplies including binders, pens, markers, loose-leaf paper and even craft items. Same with basic house supplies for older students who are living away from home; everything from kitchen utensils to laundry and storage supplies can be had at a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere (and can save on shipping with an Amazon student account!)
Host a swap meet. Invite friends and family with kids to a back-to-school clothing swap or sale. Everyone can bring items of gently or unused clothing, accessories and supplies, or even books and toys. Set a maximum price of $2-$5 for a brand-name item in excellent condition. Kids won't feel it's a hand-me-down and parents will appreciate the low cost. Anything that's left over can be donated to a local charity.
Off peak can mean on point. Shop at unlikely times to save even more! Save yourself the lineups for Back to School shopping: shop online to avoid the rush to the store before closing time. Keep your eye on your emails late evening or early morning (or anytime in between) for extra discounts for those late owls or early birds for a limited period of time! You can also save on off-peak seasonal items like swimwear, lawn tools, grilling items and outdoor sporting goods. You will still have some time to utilize them for the rest of summer into colder weather and the savings can be sweet!
Sari Friedman is the Marketing Director of Ebates.ca and resident shopping expert. Ebates.ca is Canada's largest cash back shopping site. As a fashion enthusiast and new mom, Sari has an eye for finding and sharing amazing deals on the hottest trends and must-have styles.
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