School Is Back! 10 Tips for Shopping on a Budget


For parents of school-aged kids, the end of summer signals the beginning of a new school year. Whether you have a kindergartener or an eleventh grader, you’re probably thinking about the upcoming semester already. Between art supplies, textbooks and sports equipment, there is never a shortage of things to buy. Here are a few ways to go easy on your wallet during the ever-dreaded back-to-school shopping period.

Gift it 

Has your child been pining after a particular item? If you are hesitant to spend your money on a non-essential purchase, consider buying the item in advance. Then, give it as a birthday gift before the next school year starts. This will make the item even more special to them, as well as save you from having to buy another gift.

Keep it thrifty

If you visit large thrift stores, you’ll likely find a “miscellaneous” or “office supplies” bin. They’re a great place to find basic items like notebooks, pens, pencils or rulers. What’s more, they are also a unique source of clothing, where you’re sure to find something unexpected. 

Pass it on down the line 

If you have multiple children, you’re likely familiar with how quickly they outgrow their clothes, shoes, and the like. Has your eldest moved up a size? Pack their outgrown items away for your next child to use. The same goes for school supplies—your high schooler may no longer need a geometry set or dictionary.

Host a swapping party

There’s nothing worse than buying something you don’t need. Perhaps you have 3 extra packs of markers after succumbing to last year’s back-to-school shopping frenzy. Or maybe you bought a double pack of pencils because they were on sale, but your kid only actually needs half. This is also a great opportunity to get your friends’ advice on where to find good deals.

Do an back-to-school purge

The change of seasons may be just the motivation you need to clear out your closets and drawers. Whether it’s old clothes or a forgotten set of coloured pencils, you’re bound to find something you no longer need. Do you have half-used notebooks laying around? Tear out the unused sheets to fill your kids’ binders with.

Splurge carefully

Already feeling the stress of the annual back-to-school rush? It’s easy to feel pressured to buy the most expensive version of everything on your child’s list of school supplies. Instead, try to splurge on things that will last a fairly long time, like a backpack or pencil case. There is no point in dishing out big bucks for something that will be quickly used up or easily lost.

Coordinate your shopping

This one falls in the same line of advice as tip #4. Shop with other parents to take advantage of the savings of buying in bulk. You can then divide up your purchases to avoid ending up with three of everything. 

Track the sales

During the back-to-school rush, there will of course be no shortage of items of sale. To make the most of your budget, check flyers regularly to compare prices.

Target your savings

Do your research on prices for big-ticket items like laptops and backpacks. Your savings from buying a laptop on sale will be much greater than the minor price differences on smaller items.

Make a list

To keep your spending in check, first make a list. This will help identify items that you can afford to splurge on. As for the rest, don’t be afraid to hit up the dollar store!


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