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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


I’m a mom – I get it. Back to school can be a sigh of relief but that sigh usually doesn’t come without a price tag.

As the children head back to school it can be overwhelming, costly and keeping up with the Joneses can take on a whole new meaning. So before you hit the malls, make a list, check it twice, and remember, you get to drive the agenda – at least part of it anyways.

Here are a few useful strategies I remember putting into place when my kids were in school.

1. Take stock of supplies on hand. You might be surprised how much you already have, especially if in the past you were savvy enough to buy in bulk.

2. Recruit your children to look for flash sales on social media. Download apps on your phone so you can scan objects before you buy them to ensure you are getting the best price you can.

3. Designer backpacks are cool, but consider buying with health and comfort in mind. The right fit is far more important than the right look.

4. Consider using points, rewards and sales to reduce the actual cost outlay. Not everything has to be purchased before the school year begins.

5. Recruit your children to get involved in the budget. This includes planning, allocation of spending, and appreciating the difference between needs and wants.  

6. Get your children involved in planning supply swaps, garage sales or shopping at thrift stores. Lessons outside the classroom like this are invaluable.

7. Hit the dollar store.

8. Focus on saving on the big-ticket items. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

9. Encourage your children to earn extra money to put toward the designer dubs.

10. Just say no. As tempting as it may seem, we really don’t have to yes to everything our children want.

It’s okay not to be inclusive on every purchase.  Sometimes it’s easier to go it alone, but don’t make the mistake I did: the bright yellow sweatshirt I thought was adorable for my son was not well-received by him.  

As a parent, lesson learned.