Money & Career

Back to school on the cheap

Just a few more sleeps until the first day of school (ugh). Time to get yourself organized to send the kids back to the classroom. Right now, some of my favourite personal finance and mom websites are packed with tips and ideas about how to cut your back to school costs.

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Mastefile

Just a few more sleeps until the first day of school (ugh). Time to get yourself organized to send the kids back to the classroom. Right now, some of my favourite personal finance and mom websites are packed with tips and ideas about how to cut your back to school costs. I have rounded up a few of the best tips — feel free to share your own below.

Timing: Blogger Frugal Dad says you should shop through the summer and pick up paper, pens and other stuff when they’re on sale. Or wait a couple of weeks — shop later on in September when the Back to School marketing craze dies down and backpacks, pencils and other things go on sale.

Coupons: There are some great coupon deals right now, especially for clothing. Smartcanucks has a coupon for 20 percent off all online purchases from Adidas Canada if you pay by Visa and Mrs. January has a $10 coupon for purchases of $50 or more at Joe Fresh. There are sure to be more of them popping up in the coming days.

Leave the kids at home: Otherwise they’ll be hassling you to spend more money and distracting you from your mission: to buy stuff for as little money as possible. This tip comes from Busy Mommy.

Make a list and focus on the essentials first: Canadian Finance Blog says that when you’re shopping for school supplies and clothes, you should always buy the essential items first (i.e., paper, pens, new jeans to replace the ripped ones from last year). Any money leftover can be allocated to negotiable items like a new backpack when the perfectly good old one simply isn’t cool anymore.

Organize a clothing swap: We still get all kinds of hand-me-downs from friends and family for our toddler. But as kids get older, the hand-me-down trail kind of dries up. iVillage says a back to school clothing swap is a great way to exchange stuff your kids don’t wear anymore for things they’ll love. Get a group together and bring all the clothes your kids have outgrown – be open to stuff that is a bit big because it might fit your kids next year.

Rent your textbooks: This one is for older kids going off to university. A great article in the Globe and Mail on the weekend points out that books cost the average Canadian student between $500 and $1000 a semester. Consider renting your books to save big.  

What are your best tips for saving money in September?