6 Tips To Save On Back To School Shopping
Back-to-school shopping is the second biggest retail event of the year. The only time Canadians spend more is during the winter holiday season. The difference between the two busy shopping times are, when you shop for Christmas it’s for a number of different people and most of us keep a budget to make sure we don’t over spend. In other words, we are targeted in the way we shop during the winter holidays.
But when it comes to back-to-school the pressure to set up our kids up for a successful school year can be overwhelming. According to a survey by the shopping site Ebates parents of post-secondary aged children expects to spend up to $198 per child and parents of pre-schoolers expect to spend $147. If you have several children heading back to class this September this can add up to thousands of dollars. Here’s how to spend less.
1) Take inventory
Start your shopping in your child’s own closet. Go through all the clothes they have, what fits, what can be repaired and what needs to be replaced. By organizing the clothes your child already has you can pinpoint exactly the things you need. Often in the summer months we forget what winter and fall gear our kids have. By shopping without checking you risk buying items you already have at home.
2) Go second hand first
Thanks to social media there is a thriving and robust second hand market for children clothes at your fingertips. As well you can use online resources, such as online classified sites or Facebook Marketplace to search for gently used items. Many times there are items available in your own community for a low price and often for free. Search by using key brand names to find the products and clothes you want.
3) Make a list
It goes without saying but shopping with a list saves time and money. After you have done your inventory make a list of the times you still need. Start by shopping online first, studies show we are much more targeted this way. Avoid the mall as much as possible. Going to the mall can serve as a distraction. There is something called the “mall phenomena” it was coined by a U.S. PR firm that found the average shopper spends more than $100 U.S. every time they step into a mall, even if they had no intention to buy anything. Also, shopping with a list helps you stay on track and not get distracted by the things your children don’t need.
4) Sell your stuff
Once you’re done stocking up on the items you need, take a look at the clothing and accessories your kids are not using that you could sell for cash. Join local buy and sell groups on social media. Open an online account at the many classified sites or have a garage sale. All of this might help bring in some extra cash that you can then put towards your kids back-to-school shopping.
5) Hold off on fall and winter gear
The temperature in most Canadians cities is pretty warm in the first few weeks of September. This means you can hold off buying parkas and coats for the fall and winter until after the school year starts. By delaying these purchase you may be able to take advantage of some better deals as retailers will be keen to move some merchandise to get ready for Christmas and your child might have a better idea of what they want too.
6) Where to splurge
Back-to-school shopping is expensive and you want to make sure when you’re spending money that you are getting the best value. When it comes to things like clothing and shoes you can definitely try to find the cheapest options new or second hand. One place you can splurge is on electronics. It’s better to a buy a good quality laptop for your university bound child that will last four years, rather than a cheaper one that you may have to replace year-after-year. Also for school aged children invest in a sturdy back pack that they can use for many years to come.
Lastly try to manage your child’s expectations. Many times children may not understand that there is a limited amount of money that parents can spend on their children. By being clear about the budget and what you can afford you will avoid them being disappointed.
By: Rubina Ahmed-Haq
Rubina is a business columnist who has been covering money matters for more than 10 years. Her career began 20 years ago as a news reporter. After a decade on the news beat she realized her passion was discussing personal finance issues. Now, she weighs in on money and workplace matters on CBC Radio, CBC TV and CBC News Network. Her goal is to get Canadians to take control of their personal finances on their own.