Back to School Shopping Strategies

It’s August and back-to-school sales are in full-tilt. Visa Canada reports that Canadians plan to spend an average of $677 on back-to-school shopping this year, much of it online. Mother of a Deal shares a few tips on how to make your back-to-school shopping trip, whether online or at a bricks and mortar location, an A+ success.

  1. Spend a bit of time at home researching your upcoming purchases. It’s worth an hour cruising the Internet and papers for discounts and coupons if you end up saving big. Try Googling the words ‘discount’ and ‘coupon code’ plus your desired brand. Deal sites, like are a one-stop spot for back-to school specials, and just a few minutes can keep more money in your wallet.
  2. Stick to the list. If it’s not on your school list, don’t be sucked into getting it, no matter how much your child begs you to have it. The lists parents receive for school supplies from their child’s school are very comprehensive and have been created by the teacher, so stick to it and stick to your budget.
  3. Check your supplies from last year. It’s amazing how many pens, pencils and sheets of paper can hide around the house. Have a look through your home stock; you might have more than you realize and the savings will add up.
  4. Always buy the minimum for the first day of school and then tackle the majority of the shopping after school and the deep discount sales have started. Just be sure to get the hard to find items first.
  5. Don’t forget Dollar Stores. Why spend a ton on brand name supplies when you can get them much cheaper at the local dollar store. Even blank binders purchased inexpensively can be decorated with fun stickers or a photo collage your child can make by him or herself.
  6. Buy spring wear for the fall. With similar temperatures, spring fashions can easily translate into the fall season. And with spring and summer wear now in major sales, you can get an entire wardrobe for a great deal.
  7. Use the experience to teach your children about budgeting and financial health. Involve your kids and tell them about the budget you’ve set, and how much each item costs when you put it in the (virtual) cart. If they’re old enough, you might want to involve them in the research – perhaps they can Internet deal hunt with you, or give them a calculator to add up the costs of your items. Turning into a fun game can help avoid a case of the “gimmes”, and keep your budget in check.
  8. Sharpen your negotiating skills. If you’re at a bricks and mortar store, always ask for the best price regardless of where you are. Even big-box stores often give their cashiers the authority to give 10% off. If you’re one of the parents planning to spend the average $677, five simple words could mean an extra $67 back in your pocket: “Is that your best price?”
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