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How to Stop Back to School Debt Now

Back to school season brings with it a lot of emotions for both kids and parents. Sending your kids off to a new challenging grade or even a new school entirely is enough to put your stomach in knots, but add the sometimes staggering costs of back-to-school shopping and you could be in for quite the rollercoaster. If back-to-school debt fears are on your mind, there are some ingenious ways to cut those costs.

The low down (debt) of back-to-school shopping

In 2017, the average Canadian household with kids from JK to grade 12 were expected to spend over $800 for back-to-school shopping. For already penny-pinched families, that money could result in debt.

The costs of elementary school is higher than ever for parents. Now that more and more school are using technology to teach, the items on the lists are becoming more expensive; tablets, laptops, online resources, even advanced calculators all straining budgets.

In a world that might seem like it’s gone over the deep spending end shopping for kids’ back-to-school items, there are some life rafts. Here are some sites have put some thought into how you can cut costs to reduce debt this school year:


This blog covers a lot of bases. Taylor, the blog’s author, suggests looking for “loss-leaders”. Those retailers will sell basic school supplies at a small loss just to get you in the door. That means essentials like paper, notebooks, crayons, and pencils could be a real bargain.

Another great tip: shop for refurbished electronic items. Many companies, Apple included, have online-refurbished shops. Check in on a regular basis to see what they have available, since there’s no guaranteed stock in a used department. You can save hundreds on items for your kids and keep yourself out of that dreaded electronic consumer debt.

Frugal Mama

With five busy kids on the go, Suardi knows a thing or two about pinching pennies.

You’ll find advice and tips on saving money as a thriving family everywhere on her site. But this article about clothing swaps is a great read.

Put aside the mandated supply lists that schools hand down to parents, clothing and shoes are by far one of the most expensive categories on family back-to-school shopping list.

Suardi takes an interesting look at clothing swaps by reviewing her experience of attending an upscale one in Chelsea years before. It was essentially a glamorous girls’ night out, with room and accommodation for partners and kids. But clothing swaps come in all shapes and sizes, so the sky’s the limit if you or someone in your community decide to organise one.

My Money Coach

This blog is the ultimate gentle reminder when it comes to back-to-school shopping, debt, and planning ahead.

One such reminder: back to school happens every year.

In other words, plan. You can’t cut all the costs of back-to-school shopping, but you can avoid the consumer debt. Putting $20-50 a month away for back to school, depending on your budget, can help you avoid credit card debts when back-to-school shopping comes. And starting to shop and suss out deals in July is really helpful. You’ll have the time to be picky, and to comparison shop. And dividing the costs between the summer and early fall months can help you avoid charging items you could otherwise pay for with cash.

In addition, doing a personal home inventory before you even hit the stores is also key. You probably have more than enough highlighters, lightly used binders, and stacks of loose leaf paper to get your kids through the first semester of school.

Barry Choi’s 5 Back-to-School Saving Tips from Money We Have offers a down-to-earth perspective on back-to-school shopping and cutting costs during the school year.

This year, start your back-to-school shopping early armed with the advice of some debt-busting blogs.

How do you tackle your back to school list to cut costs? Tell us on Twitter. #BackToSchool #DebtSolutions #PrimaryEd

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