GET YOUR BACK TO SCHOOL BUDGET READY BECAUSE STORE SHELVES ARE STOCKED AND WAITING FOR YOU!
The back to school promotion campaign for your hard-earned money is on as just about every store in Canada is ready for their biggest sales event during the month of August.
I’ve been in and out of the education system over the years and with this experience I’ve come up with some frugal ways to keep back to school expenses low. Just a fair warning but a beverage is essential when reading this post because it’s longer than normal.
For those of you who want to stick to a limited school budget it’s worth the read especially for those heading back to class or have kiddos they need to get ready for back to school.
Back to School Tip #1
Don’t get a credit card! You don’t need one especially if you’ve worked your butt off all summer and saved your money. All a credit card will do is create debt for you which you don’t need especially if you have student loans to pay back.
Stick to personal financial safety and walk away from the credit card.
By now you should already have your back to school accommodations in place but if not you better get networking and searching online ads, Facebook groups or contact your College or University for housing leads.
For students who are going back to elementary school or high school count your blessings if you are still living at home rent free. One day that may all vanish and you’ll have the added stress of finding somewhere to live when you set off for school. Unless of course you can live at home because your University or College just happens to be in the same city or within driving distance.
Back to school budget
This is the most important part of back to school savings because without one you will most likely spend more than needed. It’s so important to understand where your money is going because it can easily get out of hand with anything back to school related. Just listen how often a salesperson tries to up-sell you products for any technology based products you buy, including an extended warranty.
What we used to do is calculate how much money I needed to go back to school for the year and used that as a guide the following years. Most years I didn’t spend near as much on back to school supplies since I was always challenging my frugal ways.
Even though we didn’t have a specific budget like we do today we did track some numbers and my back to school experience was one of them.
How did we do it?
We did it the old-fashioned way using a pencil and paper but thankfully now we have a budget spreadsheet which we use and is free to all Canadian Budget Binder subscribers. Hey that’s you… make sure you download our budget!
Back to school employment
Not everyone has parents who can pay for their education which means taking out a student loan also known as OSAP is reality. Not all student loans are created equally which means you may have to find a job to get you through school. Always be upfront with a potential employer and let them know you are a student looking for work.
Related: Paying back OSAP loans fast
Many parents who return to school may babysit on their days off or work somewhere part-time to bring in some extra cash for the family. It’s not easy but if you need money while going to school finding a job as soon as you can will keep you afloat financially.
Back to school shopping
August is by far the best month for back to school shopping since school starts up the beginning of September right after Labour Day. In August your weekly flyers will start to get thicker and page after page screams Back to School sales.
There’s no need to get into a back to school shopping panic by booking a shopping day dedicated to just that. I find when parents do this they spend more money than they really need to.
As an adult who went back to school I shopped all year for supplies, clothing and other student needs that were part of my budget. There was no way I was paying full price for anything but my bus pass and school tuition this time around.
I find when we wait until the stores say GO it’s time to shop back to school we either buy too much or pay too much. Not all back to school shopping deals are created as you may have found out already. End of season sales are great ways to stock up for next year or even next semester.
Back to school deals
Going back to school is a big deal for just about anyone at any age especially when it comes to back to school fashion, supplies, accommodations, transportation and learning to budget.
I don’t know of any student that doesn’t own a smartphone these days so put that technology to good use and find the savings that will help you get back to school with all of your student needs met.
If you want to get the best bang for your back to school buck then you must start looking for what you need early.
Don’t wait until the last-minute to secure an apartment, residence or living arrangements with family or friends. School is a huge weight on anyone’s shoulders and you don’t want to be house hunting while your friends are busy getting educated.
As a former adult student who returned to school in a new country I learned how to stay frugal, stay motivated and kept my eye on the end goal. I also made sense of what I struggled with the first time I went to University and that was fitting in with other students while living on a low-income budget.
As I was sitting on the floor playing with our son last night my wife was in the kitchen cooking and asked me if I still spoke to my friends from school. I didn’t have to think about it because the answer was no. I didn’t go to school this time around to make friends, I went to get an education.
Yes, I had friends and we chatted but there was no partying, going out shopping, hitting up the latest night-life scenes. All I wanted to do was graduate and secure a job in my field of study. Letting loose is great for anyone but do that too much and you may find your student loan money or savings disappear faster than it should be.
Since we are weeks away from a new school year I thought I’d put together the Ultimate Back to School Guide to get you started saving money so your student budget doesn’t feel too much financial pain.
Back to school supplies
There are some pretty cool back to school supplies on the market but honestly, most are a waste of money. As long as you have back to school basic supplies such as paper, binders, dividers, pencils, ruler, calculator, paint, markers, crayons, pencil crayons, erasers and glue you should still be able to graduate. All you need is the effort.
My point is we waste so much money on back to school supplies and lose sight of the real reason we go to school and that’s to learn. No one cares if you have a Roots pencil-case that cost you $25 so stash your money for a rainy day and buy one for a buck at the Dollar Store.
The best places to find back to school supplies are the Dollar store, Garage Sales and Second-hand shops. You can literally buy bags filled with school supplies for $2.99 at Value Village.
If you are looking for specific back to school supplies keep an eye on the flyer sales, price match, collect rewards points and save as much as you can. Most places have student discounts as well so if you can wait until you get your student card you may score even further discounts.
Back to school for University and College students means buying costly textbooks however you don’t always have to buy new. Look for students who are selling their textbooks, check out your school library for listings, sales and chat to your professor to see what you really need to buy. Sometimes the profs will have excellent tips or even know students who may be selling their textbooks for cheap.
Back to school fashion
The last time I checked back to school fashion meant to simply wear clothes to school. Whether you have school uniform or not there should never be any rules about what you should wear to be with the in-crowd.
Parents should encourage children to dress for success in clothes that make them feel empowered. In the working world just about every employer has a dress code so keeping your back to school wardrobe in-line with casual wear is a great starting point.
If you are required to wear a uniform to school scour the used online ads or newspaper for sale ads to see if any graduates are selling their used school uniform for cheap. You don’t always have to buy a brand new uniform to go to school.
Purchasing shoes can be done at outlet stores, online shopping or watching the flyer deals. Many sports stores have buy one get one free or a 50% off back to school sale for students.
Before you tackle any shopping trip for back to school clothes always take inventory of what you or your child already has. This way you aren’t doubling up on articles of clothing you already have.
Not all parents have the money to splurge on high-end fashions for their kids so if you want fashion, create your own. Hit up the local second-hand shops, garage sales, online auctions, Kijiji or any place you can to score some great clothing deals to get you ready for back to school.
You may also have friends or family who have hand-me-downs that they could pass along to you for free or for a small price compared to shopping the sales. Plus! Just about every second-hand shop has a back to school 50% off sale, don’t miss that day. Lots of money to be saved.
If fashion accessories are what you’re after second-hand shops are dripping with them. There are racks and racks of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, wallets, purses, belts for a fraction of the cost brand new.
Just be you!
Back to school breakfast ideas
One of the biggest expenses next to housing and education costs as a student or parent is food costs.
When I went school as a child and adult there was never a day I didn’t take time to sit and eat breakfast. My favourite breakfast is a hot bowl of oats with brown sugar with a banana or yogurt on the side. Not only did it wake me up it kept me going almost all day whether I had lunch or not.
When you are living on your own keep your breakfast simple because mornings are hectic which is why you should pack your lunch the night before.
Parents with young children and teenagers should follow suit especially packing lunches after dinner or before bed. If you are running late in the morning it’s easier to grab a snack and your already prepared lunch rather than grabbing nothing at all or wasting time making your lunch.
Your focus in the morning should be getting ready and eating breakfast, full-stop. Some of you may exercise in the morning as well or read the newspaper but that’s all part of time management, so fit it in accordingly.
Budget-Friendly Breakfast Ideas that are quick and delicious will also depend on your dietary needs. If eggs are a huge part of your day see if you can locate a local egg farmer who sells their eggs for less than the grocery store.
Plus check out these more than 80 Back to School Breakfast Ideas put together by Fabulessly Frugal.
Priority for me: Coffee!
- Fruit, Yogurt, Nuts
- Toast and jam, peanut butter, cream cheese
- Bagels with toppings
- Eggs with cheese and toast
- Breakfast sausages and eggs
- Everyone loves bacon in moderation
- Omelet with vegetables and cheese
- Pancakes, Waffles
- Avocado chocolate pudding
- Breakfast Muffin
Back to school snacks
Everyone likes treats when they go to school because our brains get tired easily and there is only so much coffee one can drink. When you or your child returns to school you’ll want to make simple snacks to grab on the go.
- Fruits and vegetables with dips
- Canned fruits or applesauce
- Bagel with cream cheese
- Mixed nuts
- Milk and cookies
- Peanut butter and crackers
- Crackers and cheese
- Cheese cubes or strings
- Pretzels or tortilla chips
- Homemade granola bars
Making snacks at home is not only cheaper than buying pre-packaged it’s also healthier because you get to control the ingredients to create your recipes. Check out my Free Recipe Index for tonnes of snack ideas and other recipes that are all budget-friendly and easy to make for the home cook.
Pack your snacks in re-usable containers or baggies that are easy to transport. We use Tupperware products which are great for food although pricey but you can find them used at second-hand shops for far less than retail.
Back to school lunch ideas
Honestly I always brought a few snacks with me when I went back to school but for many of you that is not an option. The kiddos want to bring a packed lunch that is filling and nutritious.
Shopping the sales flyer and using coupons and coupon apps are still great ways to score deals on your groceries. Sending your child to school or packing your own lunch with any of the below lunch options is a great way to keep energy levels up until dinner time.
Wash any of these back to school lunch ideas down with water, juice or milk.
- Pasta in a thermos with crackers
- Soup in a thermos with a sandwich or crackers
- Ham and cheese sandwich
- Bagel with cream cheese
- Sliced vegetables with dip, cheese and crackers
- Croissant, bun or sliced bread sandwich with ham and cheese, tuna salad, egg salad, luncheon meats and cheeses.
- Garden salads with dressing, nuts and other toppings
Pack your lunch in a re-usable lunch bag, containers or recyclable paper bags.
Back to school grocery shopping
Not all students live on campus and have a meal plan which allows them to show their student card to eat 2-3 meals a day at the campus cafeteria. If you don’t have a meal plan cafeteria food can get pricey if that’s where you plan to eat.
Growing up my mom made lunch at home so we would walk home from school to have lunch or she would send us with simple foods and snacks that were easy to make and that were relatively healthy.
As an adult I was always in the kitchen cooking food which meant I did lots of grocery shopping and plenty of saving. If my roommates went out for dinner and asked me to go I’d either go and just buy a drink or politely decline. I wasn’t into spending money I didn’t have or had little of and neither should you.
If you live with roommates they may want to split the cost of grocery shopping with you however I would probably just stick to buying your own. I find that when roommates opt to split the costs of things that they just get out of hand down the road. This leads to arguments which may lead to one or more roommate moving out.
Grocery shopping is easy to do but can be scary if you’ve never done it before and your parents are nowhere to be found. You’re on your own now. Always go grocery shopping armed with a grocery list and never shop hungry.
Read my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide for all the tips and tricks to get you into the grocery store and coming out with savings.
Back to school tips
We’ve all done something silly at College, University and even middle school when it comes to buying stuff we don’t need or situations that could have been avoided.
Don’t create any more debt than you need to when you go back to school.
That’s my one and only back to school tip.
Finally, parents motivate your children that we are all the same no matter what we have or wear to school. The same goes for high school students and those attending University or College. Worry about yourself and make like-minded friends who want to graduate and I bet one day you will look back and thank yourself.
Always wear your winter gear to school especially the little one’s because if they get ill then you may have to take a day off from work to nurse them back to health. This may lead to lost wages if you’re employer excuses you without pay or the inability to use a vacation day or sick day if available to you.
Share your back to school tips for those returning to classes in September in the comment section below.
Trouble I got into this week
I’ve kept busy while I’m on vacation from work even though most of my time off has been a staycation with the family. We have plans to visit African Lion Safari and visit the in-laws cottage up near Barrie, Ontario which I look forward to.
After spending a few days at the in-laws we came back with boatloads of organic vegetables so this week was about cleaning and eating as much as we could. We are always worried about those darn fruit flies and you know what, they are here.
Related: How to kill fruit flies…dead!!
All we have left to eat are a few tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. We made a spiral zucchini pasta with a pork tomato sauce the other day and I can’t wait to share that recipe with all of you. I’m in love with our new Starfrit spiralizer machine that we picked up 50% off at Canadian Tire this past week.
In blog news head over to Liberty Paperwork Solutions where I share some financial tips of my own that continue to help us stay in the money game. Read what 9 Money Experts Share Tips for Managing Money.
I only published 2 posts this week as I’m on holidays and am taking a break from blogging where I can as well. Big thanks to Pauline for sharing a contribution post on the blog this week with her insights about financial independence.
I’m on holidays for another week so there won’t be a Sunday recipe this week but will resume the following Sunday. Nicola D is back in the house whipping up new recipes so be on the look-out for deliciousness coming your way.
How was your week?
Awesome posts I published this week
Just in case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week I will share them all below. If you are looking for past Saturday Weekend Review posts scroll down to the bottom of this post where I will list up to 5 previous weeks for you to read.
If you have a question that you would like to ask Mr.CBB fill out the Contact Mr.CBB form on the blog home page and I’ll do my best to reply to each one. If you want to share a story via a Fan Question please ensure that there is minimum 500 words and lots of details…we love details! I’m more than happy to chat via email to bring your story to life.
New: If your story submission gets chosen and published you will be entered into a yearly draw for a $25 Gift Card or $25 CDN via PayPal if you are from the USA.
Right now CBB is posting Tuesday (Grocery Game Challenge), Thursday (Personal Finance Post), Saturday (Personal Finance and Weekly Wrap-Up and a Frugal Recipe on Sunday!
Top Post This Week: How to make money fast without going crazy
- Investing Returns Pave The Way To Financial Independence
- 5 Critical Pointers To Slash Your Costly Eating Habits
Reader Budget Brags
Join the Budget Brag Challenge 2016 and WIN!!!
You got WHAT for HOW Much?
What I love the most is when my fans share their amazing shops with me whether it be groceries or other deals they find at a garage sale, online or freebies!
Send me your Budget Brag you will automatically get entered into a yearly draw for a surprise gift card. Every submission gets a ballot in the draw but you get an extra ballot if your brag is featured.
Start sending in your brags with a photo and tell me about your deals. If you reside in the USA and win I will PayPal you the money. Open to Canada and USA residents only.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey Mr. CBB,
There were a few garage sales that I made my way to this morning to find these frugal treasures.
Thanks Jen P.
- Treasure troll and McDonald’s Lego toy $.25
- Gift tissue paper, children’s play shaving set (will be a Christmas gift) and hairspray $3
- Perfection game, “Where’s Waldo?” book and “What Will I Do If I Can’t Tie My Shoe” book $1.50 (asking was $4.50)
- Blue Jays shirt and pencil-case $1
- Markers, paper, foot care tool, nail brush and bubbles $3
Total spent $8.75
Making a difference (MAD)
Welcome to the 2016 Making A Difference series! Join the networking movement of Personal Finance Bloggers around the world. If you are a personal finance blogger (anywhere around the world) and would like your blog to be MAD featured simply drop me an email and I’ll explain the process to you. I’m currently booking for December.
This is my way of giving back to the personal finance community through networking and sharing knowledge with my fans. Today it is my pleasure to share with you the personal finance blog, Homely Economics.
Hey there CBB Fans!
What can I say about me? I’m in my thirties, married and a mum to one. I’m also from many places – originally from Barbados but I’ve lived in the US and then the UK. Long stories!
Personal finance is a new interest for me. I’m from a low-income family and as I grew up I absorbed the idea that money wasn’t for people like us. People around me worked hard, but never seemed to have much. That was how the world was.
I was always thrifty because I never assumed I could earn much and I never wanted to be in debt. When I got married a few years ago I found myself faced with a major challenge – how to fulfill my new husband’s dream of owning our own house.
I started to crunch numbers and think hard about money for the first time. We turned saving money into a family project, writing down everything we spent from the beginning of 2014. I went further, and started looking for ways to make a bit more money from home.
As I turned over more ideas, tricks and hacks I got more excited; I even kept a monthly journal for my extra income! I wanted to share what I’d found with everyone… but ranting on social media felt spammy and wrong.
It had to be a blog of course, so that anyone who was actually interested could read about what I was doing. After a year and a half, plenty of research on my part and loads of scrimping we finally put down a £15,000 deposit on our house – a huge amount for us!
Through that savings project I finally felt financially empowered. I was aware of every penny going in and out of my pocket and I’d proven that money actually was for people like me.
I’ve carried on blogging about the cost of renovating our home (yes, it’s a fixer-upper!) and all the things we do to save and make money. We’re not career-minded people; we both still work part-time because we value our time together most of all.
My blog is my own personal money journey. We all do things differently so I don’t claim to be able to solve everyone’s financial problems. I hope that by reading about what I’ve tried and tested or investigated that someone out there might find the help they’re looking for.
Reading other personal finance blogs gave me the knowledge I needed when I was starting to save; maybe I can pass that on to someone else. I try to be very honest with my blog – life’s not perfect and I don’t sugar-coat it to look that way.
My next big project is rebooting my fine art career – it’s what I’m trained in, but we’re always told that it’s too hard to make a living from art. Well, it might not be straightforward, but it’s possible, and I’m giving it my best shot!
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Mr CBB for letting me bend his readers’ ears! I really appreciate it. If you’d like to read more about my story, do visit me at www.homelyeconomics.com
Frugal Recipe Pick
Food and grocery shopping are relevant to us because food is a large part of the budget which people struggle the most with.
We all have to eat to survive but just because we have a budget doesn’t mean we can’t eat delicious home-cooked meals that are drool-worthy.
If you are someone who would rather buy convenience foods consider cooking homemade meals or baking from scratch.
Not only will you save money but you will be proud of what you’ve accomplished and you’ll see that from the smiles on those you feed.
For the past 2 years I’ve had a second Facebook page called The Free Recipe Depot where I exclusively share recipes from Food Bloggers around the world. I also share recipes on the blog on Sunday either made by home cook and mom Nicola Don or myself.
This week Monica over at The Yummy Life lured me in with her Blueberry Applesauce blend- Vanilla I would have never thought to add other fruits to applesauce even though I’ve seen similar on the grocer shelves in pre-packaged containers.
Applesauce is one of those recipes that you automatically just think apples but that’s not always the case. Like any other recipe you can mix and match to create your own flavours. Just have a look at this blueberry applesauce and tell me you don’t want to grab a spoon! I do.
Cool Pinterest Find
I found this pretty cool article over at Her Campus that shares 5 DIY Dorm Decorations one of which is a Keep the Change Laundry Jar.
This is meant to toss spare change in for those in need of coin for the laundry or to save up to put money on a university card.
What I like about these 5 ideas is that they are created with frugality in mind and saving money for students.
With school starting up with-in weeks this is a great project to help with a back to school budget.
Every week I will pick a blog post of the week from around the web that I found interesting and want to share with all of you. Please head on over and give the post a read and let them know that Mr. CBB sent you if you comment. Thanks.
Editor’s Choice (That’s me Mr.CBB) This week Michael over at Financially Alert caught my attention with a post written back in mid-February. He blogs about how raising your standards will increase your wealth and I also support this.
It’s critical that we see the value in our skills and motivation to be successful financially in order to reach those goals. Investing in yourself is the only way to get things off the ground rolling. Michael shares some very important points about to get your started on your way to financial success.
Finding financial freedom really comes down to 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. So, guess where you should focus your efforts?
By raising your standards, you immediately begin to impact the quality of your thoughts (psychology). In fact, if you only concentrated on becoming financially alert, you will find yourself naturally adjusting your mechanics automatically.
Spotlight on Finance
What a smart quote to live by because too many people run after the money without a vision in mind. Once you love what you do and your work doesn’t feel like work any longer the money will follow you wherever you go. Become the best you can be using the skills you’ve worked hard to build upon.
Google Search Giggles
Always begin and end your day with a SMILE!- Mr.CBB
Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog. If you notice any spelling errors below this is because I share the exact way it was typed into a search engine query to land on my blog.
Most times funny, Sometimes serious.
- I want all the grocery game chicken mix– What? Clearly grocery game is why this person landed on my blog but it still makes no sense to me. Enjoy your chicken mix.
- Dumpster Diving Laws Ontario– Yes, don’t do it.
- For wife all about money– I hope you were searching for a finance blog for your wife. I’m sure she will enjoy her stay here.
- How to make insane money in Canada– Haha, “insane money”
- Companies that negotiate Rogers for you– Really? This doesn’t exist does it? I want to know now.
That’s all the fun for this week, thanks for dropping by and we’ll see ya all again next Saturday!
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- The Saturday Weekend Review #184: In 1 Minute This 10-year-old teaches the world about materialism
- The Saturday Weekend Review #185: 15 Action Steps We Use To Get Ahead Financially
- The Saturday Weekend Review #186: How to Pay Cash For What You Need The Right Way
Back to school image courtesy of : Freedigitalphotos.net