Back to School Planning

A new school year is just around the corner, and this one will no doubt look somewhat different from more “normal” years.

While many parents are still wondering how classes will look this year and what extra steps need to be done in order to protect their children, at the end of the day most kids will still be going back in some fashion. So that means the usual “back to school” routines will likely be followed.

But in these unusual times, when many Canadians are trying to be extra vigilant about their financial security, should the normal routines be followed? For example, many parents seem to think that a whole new wardrobe is needed to kick off a new school year. But is it really necessary? Are the clothes your kid is wearing this week going to be suddenly too small or out of fashion?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that each student has a list of school supplies that they will need to pick up, but that doesn’t mean a major spending spree needs to take place. Half of those supplies are likely still sitting in a drawer from last year if you take some time to dig them out.

And yes, kids seem to grow incredibly fast so some new clothes may be required. But a complete wardrobe replacement should really be seen as excessive.

The point of all this? If you spend a bit of time creating a plan before you start spending on back to school wants or needs, you’ll be much less likely to over-spend. As an added bonus, involving your child in the planning process can help them learn some valuable financial skills at the same time.

Before you go out shopping (or start shopping online), you should have a list of items that you want and those that you definitely need. Consider buying only the items on the need side, or maybe putting a maximum budget to be spent on a few of the items on the want side.

You could even turn this into a friendly competition to see which kid can get everything on their need side for the least amount of money with a prize being an item from the wants. A little bit of creativity here can go a long way!

When you add up the cost of school supplies, clothing, electronics, and field trip fee and extra-curricular activities, September is an expensive time of year for parents – even more so in a year when so many people in Canada have faced reduced hours, job losses or other financial setbacks already.

So instead of spending too much on this year’s back to school needs and putting your finances further behind, approach this September with a financial plan to keep things on track.