Late summer is a financially challenging time of year for Toronto mom Monica Belyea. That’s when you’re faced with the double whammy of back-to-school shopping for your kids, along with looming school-related costs, opting for the pizza lunch program your child enjoys, for example .
This year, things are more difficult than usual. He’s finding his weekly food budget “just doesn’t get me to the end of the week anymore,” and after months of paying higher prices for things like gas, “I don’t have that much money to go around,” the single said . mother of two children.
For Belyea, back-to-school shopping this time around means “just looking at what’s feasible within this new world of more expensive things.”
She is not alone; many parents across Canada are worried about how to deal with their children’s back-to-school needs this time around. Although Statistics Canada reported that the country’s inflation rate saw its first decline in a year this week, many prices – included for groceries —still rising.
CBC News spoke to personal finance experts and a deal-finding expert to get tips on how to cut costs during the back-to-school season.
Establish budgets; buy your house
Toronto money expert Melissa Leong has heard from others about higher prices and “driving” — when companies reduce the size of packaging or products but keep the price the same — and noticed it herself. while shopping
“There are fewer pencils in the box, but they cost the same amount of money as usual,” he said.
The author of personal finance guide Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life, said families need to be “extra, more organised” when shopping this year as a number of factors they are “putting a strain on everyone.” Canadians’ wallets.”
“My friends have been talking a lot about being worried about lunches and making proper, healthy lunches for their kids as their grocery bills are rising.”
LOOK | Melissa Leong’s financial tips for saving on back-to-school shopping:
Back to School Savings Tips
Cost-cutting strategies you can try, she said, include “shopping around” to see what supplies you already have, carefully comparing prices between stores, waiting to buy certain items when deals are more plentiful and using coupon code apps. coupon when you shop online.
If your family is on an extremely tight budget, Leong noted that some community programs and agencies offer free backpacks and school supplies, so you can try reaching out to groups in your neighborhood to learn more.
Combine sales, coupons, store deals
Pat Hollett is seeing a lot of new names and faces at Canadian Savings Group, the volunteer-run website and social media initiative she founded, where she and other bargain hunters share promotions and grocery coupons. Around 6,000 people have joined in the past two months alone, bringing the group’s Facebook followers to over 100,000.
“Everything has gone up in price and Canadians are struggling to make ends meet, that’s what I hear every day,” said Hollett, who is based in Barrie, Ont., and serves as the group’s chief executive.
“There’s only so much you can control — you can’t control gas prices, you can’t control the housing market, but you can control how much you pay for your grocery bills. So our mission is to help Canadians save . money on their grocery costs.”
Like Leong, Hollett recommends starting simple.
“You don’t grab the first thing you see. Shop around and pay the lowest price you can for the same item,” he said. “Price match where you can… Try other brands, if they are cheaper.”
When shopping for back-to-school items, compare store and price. Coupons, points cards and sales can help keep costs down. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
Their next-level strategy, however, is to employ several techniques at once: using coupons, deals and cash-back apps, and tapping points card offers to lower prices as much as possible.
Here’s how it might work: Let’s say a store has your child’s favorite cereal on sale for $4.77 this week. There may also be a manufacturer’s coupon (printable from a website or a hard copy found inside a brick-and-mortar store) that offers additional savings per box.
In addition to the sale and coupon, a particular grocer might also have a deal for points cardholders who buy five boxes of cereal. Overlaying these three discounting techniques could mean, for example, paying just 77 cents per box, Hollett explained.
She explained how shopping this way can save families up to several hundred dollars a month and could be applied this week, for example, on items like lunch kits for kids in Atlantic Canada, a popular brand of cheese crackers in Quebec and a product of six. facial tissue box pack in Ontario.
It may require a change in mindset and habit for some, as well as additional time commitments, but “it’s all about how much work you put into it,” Hollett said. “Saving money for families is really hard, so every dollar you save will help you buy other things.”
Look for deals. Teach kids to budget.
The questions Enoch Omololu has received from readers of his personal finance website reflect the growing financial pressures facing Canadians, from inquiries about stopping automatic payments, to savings vehicles, to people asking how use RESPs to cover their children’s expenses (the answer to that last question, he noted, is that you can’t).
“Disposable incomes have been stretched to the limit, physically, and people are having a hard time paying for things that they would normally brush off and pay for without thinking about it,” said the Winnipeg-based founder of SavvyNewCanadians.com.
It’s not unusual for children to need several pairs of shoes. Talking to your kids about budgeting, saving money and making choices is one of the tactics of money expert Enoch Omololu. “It’s engaging them in the process and making them realize that funds are not, money is not, an unlimited resource.” (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
Among the cost-cutting tips you’re using with your own family this season:
Comparison shopping for important purchases such as electronics, along with finding manufacturer discounts.
Major shopping sales (kids’ retailers have up to 75 percent off summer clothes, she says, that could be combined for fall or bought for next year).
I look for gently used items at thrift stores.
Weighing up which items to spend more on and opting for generic or discounted versions for others.
Omololu also advises involving children in some financial conversations and decision-making.
LOOK | How Enoch Omololu turns back-to-school shopping into a lesson in budgeting:
Teach kids to budget for back to school
Her eight-year-old son, for example, needs three pairs of shoes this fall: one indoor pair for school, one for after-school care, and a third for general outdoor wear .
As a lesson, Omololu made a deal with his son: the young man can choose a brand new pair (for which Omololu will find the lowest possible price). The remaining two pairs will be the ones mom and dad choose, maybe new, maybe from a thrift store. If he destroys the great sneakers by stepping on stones, the replacements will also be an affordable pair of his parents’ choice.
“It’s involving them in the process and making them realize that funds are not, money is not, an unlimited resource for [their] parents,” Omololu said.
Many items are perfectly fine for another school year, noted Winnipeg parent Bamidele Sanusi, like reusable water bottles, lunch bags, backpacks and the crayons her preschooler Elliott likes to color with. (Travis Goldby/CBC)
For some parents, how to pay for back-to-school supplies was a concern even before school was out. Reusing pencils, water bottles, lunch bags and other supplies for another school term, carefully weighing new and second-hand purchases, and talking to your kids about cutting costs are tactics that parents of Winnipeg Bamidele Sanusi is working this year.
With his wife currently on maternity leave with their young son, the father of three says it’s important to save for back-to-school and reduce discretionary spending “so we can manage the recurring costs, which is rent, gas, phone bills. and the rest. It’s a time to be prudent in spending.”
LOOK | Rising prices have made back-to-school shopping a challenge for many:
Back-to-school costs worry parents amid inflation