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With two school-aged boys and a newborn in the house, I’ve expressed quite a bit how important it is for me to stay organized as the new school year kicks off. But saving money on my budget is every bit as important to me right now…especially with the extra expenses a baby brings!
So, to help other parents on their quest to save a little more during the back-to-school season, I’m sharing my four best tips for making the most of your money when preparing for a new school year. While some take a little bit of work, the savings make the effort well worth it!
DIY to Make the Old New Again
One of the best things about the new school year for a child is getting to show off all the bright, shiny new school supplies to friends. But often, a quick wash will have last year’s supplies looking great and ready to work for another year. Of course, it’s sometimes hard to explain to a younger child that there’s no need to purchase everything new.
So how do you get your child excited about last year’s school gear? Put a little DIY creativity to work! Last year’s binders and pencil box can easily be given a kid-friendly makeover with some dollar-store stickers. And an inexpensive roll of washi tape is a great way to personalize pencils and pens.
Have school supplies that are too worn to be reused? Don’t throw them out just yet! Bits of broken crayon can be melted into fun rainbow crayons for Valentine’s Day gifts, rubber bands can be wrapped up into wacky bouncing balls and pencil crayons can be cut into colourful beads for jewelry!
Price Match Through Your Shopping List
Let’s face facts: every parent knows that they could save a lot of money shopping for school supplies by running to four or five different stores and grabbing the best deals at each one. But most parents just don’t have time for that, and I’m one of them!
Instead, I arm myself with flyers (or save online flyers to my phone), and then head to a store that price-matches with its competitors to grab the supplies I need. Price-matching occasionally does take a bit of extra time at the till, but it’s still much more convenient than running around to different stores. And the savings make it worth the extra few minutes of work!
To make my shopping experience even more convenient, I always pay using Interac Flash® on my debit card. Rather than fumbling for change or worrying about punching in my PIN, I can just briefly hold my card over the terminal to instantly process my payment. It’s simple, secure and makes my day a little easier!
Invest in Quality…Sometimes
There are times when buying the cheapest school gear available is a great strategy and times when it really is worth the extra few dollars to buy a quality product. As long as a pencil writes well and a ruler is straight and clearly marked, the price doesn’t matter. So, making inexpensive choices just makes sense.
But for school gear like backpacks, shoes and electronics, spending the extra few dollars will ensure that your purchases make it through the whole year and sometimes for years after as well. For example, last year, I sent one child to school with a high-quality backpack and the other with a budget backpack featuring a superhero.
Before Christmas, the fun, colourful superhero image had ripped off the front of my youngest son’s backpack. By the end of the year, the backpack was full of holes and barely functional. Similarly, any time I’ve tried to buy inexpensive indoor shoes for school, the shoes have come home with rips, holes or broken pieces…sometimes after only a few months!
That’s why I now look for warranties and quality when it comes to somewhat pricier items. I splurged on a $25 computer headset for my oldest son in Grade 2 instead of a $10 budget option, and four years later, it still works perfectly. And by choosing items with guarantees and warranties, I know I won’t have sudden expenses halfway through the year if items do suddenly break.
Get Kids Involved in the Budget
When kids get a little older, they tend to get a little pickier when it comes to the brands and styles of their clothes and school gear. Letting them express their individuality is great, but don’t let your wallet take a hit as a result!
Instead, set a budget for school supply shopping and let your kids help allocate the money in a way that works for them. Your son may be happy in thrift-shop clothing, but want to splurge on a brand-name binder. Or your daughter may be happy doing some DIY creations to save on supplies so that she can buy that one trendy dress she’s been coveting.
Either way, letting kids take an active part in the back-to-school spending doesn’t just ensure they’ll love their gear. It also helps your children learn about the importance of budgeting and how it can help them prioritize their purchases. And by paying with your INTERAC® Debit card using Interac Flash, you’re also helping your kids learn that they should have the money to pay for their purchases right away…not rely on credit.
Personally, I’ve found that over the years, saving money on school supply shopping is one of those things that’s gone from a cumbersome chore to a fun challenge for me. It’s amazing how satisfying it can be to see how much I can save when going through that endless list of school supplies.
Get started on your own saving spree with these tips, and see what other techniques you can use to help you save as much as possible getting your kids stocked up for the new school year. Once you see the extra money in your bank account come September, you may want to start your own yearly saving challenge too!
Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post; however, all opinions expressed here are my own. Interac and Interac Flash are registered trade-marks of Interac Inc. Used under license.