HomeTips to Slash Back-to-School Spending

Tips to Slash Back-to-School Spending

Every September parents reach into their wallets to pay for all the costs associated with this time of year. It starts with school supplies, then indoor shoes, then a new lunch kit and backpack. But it doesn’t stop there; quickly we move on to soccer registration, swimming lessons, dance classes and the gear that goes along with each of those activities.

When the kids are young we look forward to the years beyond expensive childcare fees. Then when they graduate to elementary school, we learn that the costs don’t stop there. This is an expensive time of year, no question about it. While many of the costs cannot be avoided, some of them can be minimized.

School supplies

Check the inventory of what came home with your student(s) in June and only purchase the items that are missing or broken. Most PACs have an online list you can order as a package or individually.


Stock the closet by shopping at local consignment sales and stores. While you’re at it, sell the outgrown items to help pay the bill.

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Sports equipment

Look online or with the sports association for used equipment. Kids grow fast and switch sports often, so you’ll likely find something that is nearly brand new.

Extra-curricular activities

Consider registering at the rec centre instead of a studio. The instructors are often the same, the commitment is less and fees are lower—win, win, win.

There are some costs that simply cannot be avoided. For those ones, I have these tips to help you reduce the seasonal bleeding. These options are not immediate so you’ll be planning ahead for next year, and “Future You” will be thankful that you did.

Include it in your monthly budget

Add 1/12 of the cost to your monthly budget and begin to save each month. Open a free savings account to keep this money separate and ready for next year.

Ask grandparents to help

Many family members prefer to give experiential gifts over material ones. Christmas is right around the corner so talk to them now.


I would be mistaken to leave out the biggest expense in your household after housing, food! Did you know that most local families spend well over $1,000 each month on groceries alone? That’s $10,000–$20,000 per year!

If we can reduce our spending at the grocery store, we’ll have more money to use on all those expensive activities for the kids. The rule that my clients use as a guide for their grocery budget is $50 per week per person, with some exceptions for teenage appetites and dietary restrictions.

Ditch the individual packages. Buying the big bag of chips and packing a portion in a reusable container can reduce your costs by 50% (and it save our landfills too)

Plan your meals. Write down your meals before you go shopping, then stick to the plan.

Shop less. Hitting the grocery store just once per week will avoid picking up just a “few things” each time you run, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.

Know your numbers. Pay attention to the sale prices so you know when something is truly a good deal. My clients do their best to stick to $1.99 per pound for produce whenever possible.

When you live in a high-cost-of-living area, taking steps to reduce your spending is a must for most families. By spending a small amount of time this year, you’ll not only see some instant results, you’ll also be able to enjoy the next back-to-school season with a little less financial stress.

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