Five ways to save on back to school shopping

We just returned from a relaxing two week vacation in Nova Scotia where I was reminded every time I went shopping that OMG it’s back to school time already! I had done some school supply shopping before we left to snag the best loss leader items, but I still have to review and buy the clothing, footwear and tech for this year for my three girls.

As the author of Money Smart Families: Financially Fit Parenting, a personal finance guide for moms (and dads too!), it’s extremely important to me to model smart spending habits with my girls, especially during high spending season. And for many parents, back-to- school is the most expensive time of year. According to a survey done by PC Financial®, while only 35 per cent of parents spent $500 or more per child during the 2015 holiday season, over half agree they will spend this amount per child on the upcoming back-to- school season!

I’ve teamed up with PC Financial, my personal bank and credit card provider, to offer you five tips to help soften the blow of back to school shopping.

Do an inventory. Whether you carefully set aside any school supplies that were still usable that came home in a stuffed and worn out backpack in June, or you have unearth said backpack now from the dark recesses of a child’s room, it’s time to take stock of what you have. Get the kids to help you go through their backpacks, or rooms, or junk drawer and pull together what you have for school supplies already. Sort through their closets with them and have them try on sneakers and clothing to see what you have that’s still going to work for at least the first half of the year, and make a list of what you think you need to buy. Ask yourself – do we really need this? Does your child need a new backpack, or will last year’s suffice? Don’t buy shiny new things just for the sake of buying shiny new things if it will strain your finances in any way. Also, many schools publish a master school supply list, but each individual classroom has different needs. You can check with your child’s teacher about which supplies might go unused, and cross those off your list.

Make a plan, and stick to it. Write up a complete list of everything you need before hitting the stores, and don’t be tempted to toss extras in the cart that can send the bill soaring. In our house, each kid needs two pairs of properly fitting sneakers for the fall, one for indoor use and one outdoor. They know our family rule is that they can buy one branded pair, and one basic pair. It’s up to them which pair they want to keep pristine. This can save money per child – this kind of planning helps with the back to school budget.

Shop around. Some years I’ve had more time than others to shop around and stock up at different stores, but other years I’ve had to do it all in one go. I’m spoiled enough to have Click and Collect curbside shopping service at my local Real Canadian Superstore (that $3 fee is worth every penny), and their school supplies are available in their online shop. That meant this year I did the majority of my shopping online along with my weekly grocery run. If you have time, shop around to find the best deals, and consider buying extra of those super screaming cheap items to break out later in the year when the originals are lost or destroyed and replacements are no longer on sale.

Use those points! Redeem those PC points on school supplies, Joe Fresh clothing and to load up on lunch box snacks you know they’ll eat. We have a PC Financial World Elite MasterCard that has no annual fee and gives us 3X the regular PC points (that’s 30 points) for every $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart, and of course participating Loblaw banner stores (e.g. Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills). The minimum redemption is 20,000 PC points (worth $20 in free rewards) and in increments of 10,000 PC points thereafter, at participating grocery stores where President’s Choice products are sold. I have the PC Plus app and earn bonus points when I buy bonus point items each week – and I love that items on my app are usually fresh fruit, veggies and PC branded products.

From July 26th to July 28th, 2016 an online survey was conducted among 1,007 randomly selected Canadian parents of children aged 12-21 who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to gender and region. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of PC Financial®. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Leave a Reply