No need to break the bank for school supplies

School has been out for only a few short weeks, yet it’s already time to start thinking about it again! Along with your child’s report card came a list of supplies needed for the upcoming school year.

School has been out for only a few short weeks, yet it’s already time to start thinking about it again! Along with your child’s report card came a list of supplies needed for the upcoming school year.

What better way to teach your children about saving money than with the purchase of new school supplies?

Statscan reported that in 2008, $935.1 million was the total value of sales for stationery, office supplies, etc. (Back to school … by the numbers 2008, Statistics Canada) This year, school supplies alone could cost the average family more than $60 for a Grade 2 student and more than $200 for a Grade 8 student.

“Most children want new supplies for school but it can be a very expensive proposition especially if you haven’t budgeted for it,” says Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.  “This is an opportunity to teach your kids an important lesson: the difference between needs and wants.”

Schwartz recommends the following tips to help you teach your children to be good school supply shoppers:

Reduce

• Let your kids create the shopping list and give them a budget for spending on their supplies.

• Set up a reward system if they spend less than the budgeted amount.

• Shop for supplies when they are on sale.

• Kids grow so fast! Look for uniform resellers and save by buying a gently-used one.

• Shop for first term and then replace items on an as needed basis.

• Dollar stores and clear out centres are great for reasonably priced school supplies.

• Schools do provide certain items; have your child check with his/her teacher before spending any money.

• Label as much as possible to avoid loss.

Recycle and reuse

• Reduce the amount you spend by evaluating the condition of the supplies brought home at the end of school to see what can be recycled and reused

• Then, ask your children if they really need new supplies.

• Buy the latest fad or reuse last year’s knapsack — the choice is easy if they want the reward for not blowing the budget.