Heading Back to School with Financial Common Sense

School Buses

THUNDER BAY – The start of the school year often puts families behind the financial eight ball. The steps in getting students ready for school often entail having new shoes, new clothes, school supplies, and new electronics.

Laptops or tablet computers are a staple for many students today. Choosing how to afford all the latest needs and wants often puts as much pressure on the family budget as Christmas does. For some heading back to school means almost like a Hatfields and McCoy type feud as parents compete to spend money to build up an image for their children and teens heading back to class.

Making smart choices, and doing careful planning can ease students and families through September without all of the stresses on the family budget.

Money Mentors suggest a few steps to make ends meet better.

  1. Check Current Inventory — As simple as this seems, there may be a surprising number of supplies already in your home from last year’s purchases. Your child may have also brought home unused school supplies from the previous school year. Make sure you check your closets and drawers for these supplies first.
  2. Create a budget — Creating and sticking to a budget based on your current financial position and back-to-school needs will help you to remain in control of your overall finances. When creating your budget you need to consider your income, monthly financial responsibilities, savings, emergency funds and other incidental payments. Heading out shopping with a realistic budget will limit you from over spending when back-to-school shopping.
  3. Only buy needs — You do not need the coolest or fastest laptop if you can’t afford it. At Money Mentors, we believe that the key to controlling spending and being in charge of your hard-earned money is about deciding on what to spend and on what not to spend.
  4. Don’t pay full price — Shopping around gives the best bang for your buck and there are countless retailers offering great discounts. Compare the best deals in flyers, in-store discounts, and online. Keep in mind that you do not have to buy everything new. Used textbooks, resources from your local library, clothing from consignment stores and items from buy and sell websites such as Kijiji.ca are often as good as new.
  5. Use cash — Pay with cash when shopping in stores and stay away from credit cards if possible. Generally speaking, cash limits you from being talked into buying the next level up item or adding features you do not need. Cash can limit your ability to over shop, and allows you to buy what you have budget for only. Additionally, using cash constantly prompts you about your spending and also protects you from impulse buying while shopping.
  6. Buy in bulk with a friend — Per item cost is often much cheaper at warehouse stores such as Costco; however, you will often end up with more than you need and can quickly over spend. Buying teaming up with one or more friends to purchase necessary items together you can take advantage of warehouse prices without breaking your budget.

These simple tips can help to ensure as smooth a transition from summer to school as possible.

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