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4 Ways To Lower Your Family’s Back To School Budget

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By: Anna

Is what to buy for Back To School on your mind? Yes it’s that time again when the beautiful and blissfully relaxing summer comes to an end. The leaves start to change colour and you know it’s time for your children (or you if you’re an adult learner!) to go back to school, but at what cost?

For many children, back to school usually means that they get a new outfit, new backpack, new pencil-case, new stationary, or *gasp* even a new electronic gadget!  The back to school budget can easily be busted with the rising cost of goods and inflation, and how these days, high school children want the best of everything.

In fact, this year in 2012, 63% of parents plan to spend an average of $500 (Source) for the back to school budget for their children, this number is more inflated than last year likely because of the same parents polled, 40% plan to buy gadgets and electronics for their kids this year.

Back to school can be a great opportunity to engage your child and teach your children about money.

Here are some ways in which you can lower your family’s back to school budget this year.

1. Make a budget with your child

Make a list together with your child about what they need for back to school and the approximate or estimated cost of these goods.  Do research together on flyers, sales, and other back to school events available in your neighbourhood.  For example, work together to try and find a college or university student friend or family member who doesn’t need to buy an iPad this year-Apple offers an annual education discount for their products.  This year, they are giving you a $50 gift card for buying an iPad.

Let your child know that there is a limit (your budget) to the total cost of the back to school supplies and clothes, and that if the budget is not exceeded, your child could keep half of money saved to use on what they would like.  This will more likely work on a preteen or teenager, as they would be more motivated about saving money for what they really want to buy.

Potential savings: $50

2. Hand Me Downs, Consignment Stores, Thrift Stores

Although school age children may balk at the idea of hand me downs from their older sibling, hand me downs are a great way to cut the cost of your back to school budget.

Consignment and thrift stores are a great way to save money for back to school.  High school children especially, may find this idea “cool” because well, it’s the new cool thing now.  Thrift store shopping gives you unique goods that they likely can’t find anywhere else.

Potential savings: $100+

3. Re-use what you can re-use

Back to school items like backpacks, pencil cases, and even binders can really be re-used (unless they are in terrible shape, which unfortunately can be the likely scenario).

Talk to your child about recycling and re-using and the impact that him or her NOT buying a new backpack/iPad/iPhone/pencil-case can have on the environment.  Explain how saving money by re-using something that can be re-used can benefit your child because there will be more money for fun activities.  This begins teaching your child about values and the symbolism towards our own values that money can have in our lives.

Potential savings: $50+

4. For the big wants, work on it together

For the big “wants” like iPods, iPads, and other big gadgets, talk to your child about the pros and cons of getting another gadget. If your child has been rewarded for good behaviours (like chores, mowing the lawn etc.), offer to pay for half of the “want” and work on this want over the summer.

Having your child work hard for the money teaches them about the value of money and will inevitably teach them to treasure their new splurge because they worked so hard at it.

As a 13 year old on my first day of high school, although my mother bought me expensive $80 London Pepe jeans (those were the upper limits of jean prices in those days…none of that $200+ price tag!), I didn’t really wear them that much after the first year.  I remember kicking up a big fuss about wanting them.  However, I know that if my mother told me no and came up with a strategy for me to work hard to get them, I would have treasured them even more.

As the economy continues to be unpredictable, saving money for the future is important for your family.  Teaching your child about money is important and the weeks prior to back to school can be a great opportunity to do this.

Do you have any other back to school budgeting tips you’d like to share?

Guest Post By- Anna, owner of Bargainmoose.ca, the Canadian shopping community for deals,coupon codes and freebies. Anna is sharing an article with some tips and ideas on saving cash when doing the “back to school” shopping.

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