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How to Reduce Your Chance of Back-to-School Debt

Unless this is your child’s first year of school, as a parent you know that sending your kids back to school each year can be expensive. Getting a head start on the season helps. If you want to keep your spending on track and reduce the likelihood you’ll take on additional debt, now is the time to put a shopping and spending plan in place.

Last year, Canadians expected to double their spending on school supplies compared to the previous year.

Having a plan-of-attack can help you avoid additional stress — especially if your budget is already stretched, like so many family budgets are across the country.

We’ve put together a few useful tips and resources that we hope will inspire you to take immediate action. It’s never too early to set a good plan in motion and these tips can help!

Tip #1: Figure out what you’ll need to buy

If it seems like the school year just ended, you’re right, it did! But setting time aside earlier in the summer can help you avoid taking on consumer debt to cover costs in August and September.

Make a list of all the back-to-school items you know you’ll need to buy, like clothing and classroom supplies. Will your child need a computer or tablet this year? What about a cell phone or even a new bike to ride to school?

Tip #2: Research costs and create a plan of attack

The simplest way to research costs may be to check online retail sites. But you can also pay a visit to one or two big box stores to check out their prices. How much will you need to spend in total? If that number is beyond your budget, now’s the time to create a plan of attack to avoid consumer debt.

  • Check the weekly flyers for early bird back-to-school sales. Even better, find an app like Flipp that gives you access to multiple flyers and coupons on your phone.
  • Subscribe to email alerts from your favourite stores. You’ll receive advance notice of special sales and flash sales that can help you cut your costs on clothing and technology purchases.
  • Spread out your purchases over the summer, and delay those purchases that can wait until September or October.

Tip #3: Adjust your budget to include back-to-school expenses

If you’re not working from a budget to help you manage your money and debt now’s the time to start.

For those who already have a budget you will want to adjust the discretionary portion of your budget. For example, if you’re dedicating 30 per cent of your income towards personal expenses, look for areas to cut back so you can set dollars aside for back-to-school shopping.

For a long-term solution, think about adding a “back-to-school” savings line to the savings portion of your budget. Having money set aside before you shop will help minimize the need to use credit cards or lines-of-credit.

Tip #4: If your debt load is impacting your ability to save, get help to reduce your debt

Cutting back personal expenses or adjusting your savings budget can be a challenge if your budget is already stretched thin. The good news is that there are a number of strategies that can help you reduce your debt load. You can learn more about debt solutions by visiting our debt options page.

For additional ideas on how to budget, save money and reduce the need to take on back-to-school debt, check out these articles.

If you found our back-to-school tips and resources useful help us spread the message by sharing this blog on Twitter using #BackToSchool, #ParentingTips and #DebtSolutions!

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