While there’s an undeniable sense of excitement associated with the back-to-school season, for most parents, the transition back to the classroom means added stress and expenses. In fact, as the second heaviest spending event following the holidays, back to school can be overwhelming and unaffordable. However, the end of summer can also be a great time to implement smart spending strategies to help ensure September doesn’t break the bank’while getting your family off on the right financial foot for the year to come.
Here are a few of tips for a financially savvy September:
Swap Stuff for Swag
A new back-to-school wardrobe doesn’t have to cost a dime. Clear up the clutter in your family’s closet by hosting a clothing swap with a group of families. Consider using cash or trade unused items for something else you need. Online marketplaces, such as Kijiji or craigslist are a great way to sell old stuff, but hosting a swap soiree makes it more fun and social. If your children are old enough, involve them in the ‘buying’ process and let them shop at the swap and pick out some new gear for fall. Regardless of whether you’re heading to a shop or swap, the most important thing to do is take note of what your children have from last year that will suffice, and what is a priority for the year to come.
Cut Back on the Extras
This time of year one of the biggest drains to our finances and free time can be enrollment in extracurricular activities. Hockey, horseback riding, soccer or dance class can cost a small fortune and lead to a chaotic schedule before and after school. Furthermore, with a wide range of format and instruction available’from private lessons and pre-professional teams to just-for-fun groups and freelancers’deciphering the worth of each activity can be challenging.
To start, talk to you child to identify what they are passionate about and limit their enrollment to that one activity. Your children don’t have to be a pro in all sports and activities to be well rounded, and by limiting involvement in extracurricular activities to one area, for example music or a specific instrument, you will not only cut costs but will also help your children foster a sense of expertise, commitment and success.
Shop Like a Teacher
Teachers have mastered maximizing their classroom budget to get the most school supplies for the least. This means being organized with the specific needs and items, as well as the budget that you have available. Teachers are also pros at knowing which retailers offer the best deals’from buying arts and crafts supplies at the dollar store to buying essential supplies, such as pens, notebooks and paper from stores offering big sales, or bulk buying discounts, like at Walmart or Superstore.
While we put emphasis on September as the month to go back to school, keep in mind that we have a full 12 months of opportunities to save ourselves money and stress. It’s about making small and mindful adjustments each day and understanding that the ultimate outcome is to enjoy life.
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