For many parents, back-to-school shopping is one of the most costly shopping events in Canada. 

In fact, according to newswire on a study by, 44% of Canadian parents say that back-to-school shopping presents a financial burden on their family. Plus, 78% of Canadian parents believe that it’s getting increasingly expensive year after year come September. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

With the first day of school just around the corner—and your kids’ back-to-school shopping lists looming—let’s turn this potential financial burden into a savings and debt management opportunity. Back-to-school shopping done right, with a little bit of planning, won’t break the bank or cause you to stress.

Back-to-school shopping done right

1 – Assess what your kids already have versus need and want

The end of summer is a great time to do a big clean-up, purge, and assess what you already have. Just pick a cloudy, cool day when your kids are antsy to get back to school and get them to go through their closets and drawers. This will give them a chance to take stock of what they already have—clothing, accessories, technology, and supplies-wise—and make a mental list of what they still need (versus want). 

2 – Consult the back-to-school shopping list

Now that you and your kids have a better understanding of what they already have, see what’s left to buy on the back-to-school shopping list. 

3 – Create a budget with your kids

Many of us, young and old, get caught up in frivolous consumption. Fast fashion. The latest technology. You name it. 

Rather than taking on the stress of disappointing your kids or the financial burden of back-to-school shopping based on every “must-have” trend, why not treat this as a collaborative, financial learning opportunity? Based on their back-to-school shopping list and your personal finances, set a spending budget and work with your kids to stay within it. 

For example, if you have $200 to spend on back-to-school shopping per child, perhaps 40% of it can be for school supplies, 40% toward wardrobe updates and 20% is negotiable—or could go toward saving up for a new piece of technology. 

4 – Do your research and price match

Depending on your kids’ age, consider working with them to research and find the best deals online for supplies, accessories, clothing, and so on. This way, they’ll get what they want (and actually use it) and they will learn how to manage their money and a budget early on. Many stores price match and have great back-to-school deals, but only for those who take the time and effort to find them. 

5 – Give yourself time to buy online

Last-minute back-to-school shopping is not great for your wallet or your well-being. Get ahead of the online deals now and give yourself plenty of time to have your purchases packaged and shipped to you before September rolls around. That will also give you time to make any necessary exchanges and returns before school starts.

6 – Stock up for the year

Most stores, big brands, and e-commerce sites offer back-to-school shopping deals. Consider buying bulk school supplies now for things like notepads, paper, pens, and pencils that get used up throughout the year. Stocking up for the year now may mean savings now and down the road when supplies run low and prices are back to normal.

Back-to-school shopping done right requires you to do a little bit of planning now to save in the near future.  

Tags : back to schoolfinancial advicemoney tipssavingsaving moneyshopping
Sam Milbrath

The author Sam Milbrath

Sam Milbrath is a freelance copywriter and brand marketer. When she isn’t writing for brands or doing her own creative writing, she’s exploring, taking photographs, gardening and doing pottery. Check out her work at