With the beginning of school right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start shopping for back to school supplies. Despite a lower loonie, Canadians are planning to spend 4 percent more this year compared to last year, according to Ernst & Young. Thanks to the Universal Child Care Benefit, most parents have more spending money in their pockets (just remember some of that could get clawed back in April when you file your taxes). How do you stretch your back to school dollars further? Here are five back to school saving tips.
- Comparison Shop
Big box retailers want to be your one-stop shop for back to school supplies. The problem is you might not necessarily be getting the best deal on everything. For example, you may save money on clothing, but end up overspending on stationaries. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Today it’s easier than ever to comparison shop. There are phone apps out there that help you find the best deals without spending hours searching through flyers.
- Shop Online
A lot of parents forget that brick and mortar retailers aren’t the only place to find the best deals on back to school supplies. Online retailers like Amazon.ca offer their best deals of the year in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. While it may not be ideal to buy clothing online, you may be able to save money on stationaries. A lot of retailers even offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount.
- Buy in Bulk and Share
Have you ever considered buying in bulk? You can save a pretty penny by purchasing in large quantities. Retailers like Costco reward consumers for buying more. If you don’t need 100 pencils or 50 pens, consider buying in bulk and sharing with fellow parents. By splitting the supplies – and costs – you can save a fortune.
- Develop a Budget
It’s hard to know how much you’re going to spend without a budget. Before you head to the stores, it’s a good idea to develop a budget. However, before you can develop a budget, you need to know what you already have. Do an inventory at home of what you already have. You might be surprised to learn your son or daughter has a boatload of school supplies from last year he or she hasn’t even opened yet.
Once you’ve taken an inventory of what you already have, develop a shopping list. With a shopping list in hand you’ll be less likely to overspend. Make a list of needs and wants. While it would be nice to have a new laptop, is it really necessary? If the old laptop is in perfect working order, probably not.
- Start Shopping Early
Many retailers offer their best back to school deals in the two weeks leading up to the big day. If you wait until September rolls around, you’ll have missed all the best deals. On the other hand, it can be worth shopping in September. Anything that hasn’t sold in the weeks leading up could be available at a discount. (Just remember your son or daughter might not be a big fan of a Barney notebook.)
Looking to start saving towards college or university? RESPs are a great way for parents to save up for school. If you haven’t started saving for your child’s post-secondary education, feel free to contact our office and let us help you fully weigh your options.