Back to School on a Budget

TossingClothes Landscape

Even though it can be the most wonderful time of the year for parents, back-to-school season is also an expensive time. Every September, I put these tips and tricks into high gear.

Go through those closets. Purge the stuff you no longer need, but keep an eye out for those little gems that are hand-me-down worthy. They are invaluable – we rely on hand-me-downs from older siblings, cousins, neighbours and pretty much anyone else willing to drop a bag off at our front door!

Consignment shops. Do you have tweens or teens who want trendy clothes that cost more than anything you’d spend on yourself? Have a look around – there are many high-end second-hand stores that cater to this market. Search online as well. Why spend five times more than you need to? Oh, and when your fickle teen is done with the shirt she has only worn three times, take it back to the consignment shop so she can make money for her next purchase.

Last year’s school supplies. Don’t assume your kid needs all new binders, pencil crayons and other school supplies. See what can be salvaged from the last school year. You can keep one kid busy all afternoon by handing out the important job of “official old pencil crayon sharpener.” Is the backpack looking a little grungy? Throw it in the laundry – once you get that squashed banana off the bottom, you might realize it’s got a bit of life left in it.

After you’ve done a true inventory, you’ll have a better idea of what your actual needs are. That will save unnecessary spending and make back-to-school shopping much easier.

Don’t shop during peak back-to-school season. Buy things off-season. See if you can squeak through the back-to-school period long enough to take you to the BTS sales that are sure to follow this crazy season. A new backpack bought in October can be half the price it is now.

Keep it simple. When you do go shopping, keep things generic and gender neutral. It’s much easier to pass along backpacks and other items if they are not hot pink or covered in characters.

Label everything. Label all the items that go into your kids' backpack, plus the bag itself! Involve your child in selecting the label design to encourage them to take pride in their belongings, which will further avoid losses. There’s nothing like avoiding those visits to the lost and found bin or closet at your child’s school.

 

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Author: Julie Cole

Julie Cole is the co-founding vice-president of award-winning children's label manufacturer Mabel’s Labels. She has helped her company bring their product to a worldwide market, gain media recognition and win countless entrepreneur awards. Cole is a regular television contributor, an influential and syndicated blogger and a mother of six. Follow her on twitter @juliecole and Instagram @cole.julie

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