Financial Literacy

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It’s that time again—back to school! Did you know it’s the second-busiest shopping season of the year for Canadians, with only Christmas surpassing it? With that in mind, here are 8 ways to get the kids back to school without getting back into debt.

back to school

1. Make a Back to School Checklist

This may seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have you seen someone tear through the back to school aisle on a list-free shopping spree, leaving it looking like a warzone? For those on a budget, this is a big, big mistake. You’re likely to spot something the kids don’t really need but toss it into the shopping cart anyway. (If they’re tagging along, they will most certainly spot something they don’t need.) You may even want to consider leaving the kids at home for this trip, but run through the checklist with them beforehand so you don’t forget any necessities.

2. Shop Your Home

You may be surprised to find a lot of the items your younger kids need, and even some of the older ones too, are around the home and in perfectly good condition. After all, those school supplies from the previous year had to have gone somewhere. Now that you’ve got your list, have some fun with it by having a scavenger hunt with the kids throughout the home to find items on the list.

3. Hold Off on New Clothing

Of course, children, and especially teens, want the coolest clothing to wear for their first weeks back at school. And of course, retailers know this and most will be charging the most for these must-have items throughout August, according to Consumer Reports. Here’s a better buying strategy to consider: buy one or two new outfits so the kids have something new to wear the first few days, and then buy the remainder of their wardrobe later in September or early October; it’ll give them something to look forward to as well!

4. Buy Refurbished Electronics

If your teen is going to need a laptop or tablet this year, be sure to shop refurbished first. In today’s “throw-away culture” many items are fixed and resold—and in perfectly good condition. Many refurbished products may be unused customer returns that are essentially “new” items, or they may have had a minor defect and were returned under warranty, which the manufacturer then resells. Buying refurbished electronics is a great away save money on quality (and brand name) products.

5. Check the Dollar Store

It’s easy to overlook these wonderful little places when back to school shopping, but you can find a lot for a little—and not just back to school supplies, but also other items you want the kids to have, such as like Kleenex and hand sanitizer—at bargain prices. This handy chart shows that Dollarama often is significantly less expensive than other retailers like Walmart and Staples. Consider shopping early in the season, because dollar stores buy limited supplies and don’t restock as frequently as larger retailers.

6. Get Couponing

Even if you’re not a regular coupon clipper this time of year, you may want to reconsider. Keep the sales flyers and coupon sheets that come your way, search the Internet, and check online retail sites like RetailMeNot or for other great deals. Also, search the Internet for coupons you can use in stores in your area—they are everywhere. It’s smart to involve your kids in this process, as it helps teach them about the value of a dollar.

7. Use the Library (or Teach the Kids How)

Some children and teens get their course syllabi ahead of the school year so they can plan for some of the items they’ll need. If any required reading can be borrowed from the library rather than purchased at the store, take advantage of it! But get there early: if you’re lucky enough to get that syllabus, other parents receiving it may have the same idea!

girl in library

8. Check Resale Websites

Going to sites like and typing in “Back to School Bundles” will give you hundreds of listings, offering all kinds of items a kid may need all in one bundle. For even more convenience, some of these listings have a recommended school year. There are also clothing bundles, and while teens might not be thrilled with the options, little ones won’t mind.

Today, the average Canadian is spending more than ever before on back-to-school shopping. Anything you can do to bring down that tally will help you budget. We hope these tips will help make for a happy (and valuable) back-to-school season, and if you’re looking for more free money management resources and tips, then look no further and just click here.

Submitted by: Credit Canada Debt Solutions

Credit Canada Debt Solutions

Credit Canada is Canada’s first and longest-standing credit counselling agency, a leader in financial wellness, and a proud member of Credit Counselling Canada. For more than 50 years, Credit Canada has been helping Canadians successfully manage their debt and lead financially healthy lives by providing non-profit debt help, free credit counselling services, as well as free money management tools and budgeting solutions.


*Please note that none of the links contained in this article are affiliate links.

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