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How to Get Frugal With Your Family’s Back to School Shopping

August 12, 2019
It’s no joke … sending your kids back to school each year with everything they need can be tough on your bank account.

This school year, it’s estimated that “families with children between kindergarten and 12th grade can expect to spend an average of $696.70” on back to school shopping, as per the Better Business Bureau.

So how can parents afford to get all the back to school essentials their kids need, without blowing their budget? Get frugal with spending, and plan ahead.

After taking stock of what items you may already have at home, consider these 7 back to school shopping tips for scoring deals and saving big bucks all year long.

Create a budget.

Review your family’s average income and expenses in order to make a feasible budget you can abide by. If money is tight right now, only purchase essentials that are needed right away. Moving forward, you can make a plan to save up for any extra items.

Make a list… and stick to it.

Prepare for projected back to school expenses by making a shopping list of all the necessities your child will need at the start of school. Make a supplemental “wish list” for a later day when seasonal sales are on and extra items can be fit in the budget.

Choose quality over quantity.

If you have young kids, you’ll agree that they grow like weeds — sometimes going through multiple clothing sizes in one school year! Find quality brand name and pre-loved clothing at thrift stores or online swap sites, instead of buying new but poor quality items. Invest in key items like durable backpacks, lunch boxes, and winter boots so you don’t have to keep replacing them … then save on the rest!

Compare before you buy.

Purchase school supplies and clothing when they are on sale… and get more for less! Fan-favourite stores like Old Navy, Best Buy and Walmart often offer big savings on everything your kid needs for school. Keep an eye out and you’re sure to snag a great deal!

Prepare for any big purchases.

If you have teens heading off to college or university for the first time, The Better Business Bureau shares that your costs for back to school purchases will be nearly $300 higher than what spending costs are for younger kids. Your big kid on campus will likely need their own laptop, a reliable vehicle, or apartment furnishings. Many big-ticket items like these can be planned for and saved for in advance, then bought on sale or secondhand. Browsing Buy & Sell websites like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace can yield great results — with enough patience, bargaining and thinking ahead!

Plan your meals.

By planning out family meals in advance each week, you’ll save on grocery costs, meal prep time, and your own sanity. Pre-planning and prepping will also save time for the whole family on hectic school nights when after-school sports and activities take place. Don’t forget, freezer meals and crockpot dinners are amazing for feeding a crowd on a budget!

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

One of the biggest tips for living on a budget is to repurpose items you already have on hand or can find at the second-hand store. Get crafty with various uses for jars, cans, materials and more! Purchasing pre-loved items is a way of reducing your carbon footprint and saving money, too. It’s something your whole family can feel good about.

Splitting bulk deals with friends, hosting a clothing swap, and spreading out purchases are all more awesome ways that you can save money on back to school shopping… and stick to your budget.