Back-to-school is an important time for your kids, but it can often add more stress to your schedule and to your family’s budget. If you budget and stay on top of your finances and find creative ways to cut costs, it can be an enjoyable experience while providing all the essentials for your kids to take to the classroom.

We’re breaking down the top 8 budgeting tips for families during back-to-school.

1. Create Your Budget Template

Working within a budget is an obvious but crucial step especially when your finances involve your children. School supplies can add up quickly, but with strategic planning you can navigate how much you’ll need to allocate and where to find the best supplies. There are a number of budgeting templates available to help you get started.

You can even get the kids involved. If you include your kids in the planning, they can learn the importance of budgeting while also enjoying the fun aspect of shopping for supplies. Have them help clip coupons, find sales online, and compare prices between stores so they see how easy it is to find great deals.

2.  Keep an Eye Out for Any Hidden Costs

While you’re busy organizing your budget to account for writing supplies and books, there may be additional costs that need factoring in. After-school activities often come with fees attached and they’re important to consider when you’re laying out your back-to-school budget.

3. Look for Short Term Help if You Need It

If you’re waiting for a paycheque to clear or for other cash to come in, and you need to cover a medical bill or other emergency expense, you always have access to alternative lending. Easier to secure than traditional bank loans, you can get fast cash at GoDay or a similar provider because of their faster, simpler process, without all the red tape. Just be sure you’re able to pay it off quickly to avoid the interest rates.

4. Offer Incentives

Your kids will likely try to select the eye-catching backpack or the pencils or pens with the array of colours. Offering an incentive if they choose the less expensive products benefits your budget and gives them a chance to see the benefits of savings. You could suggest splitting the savings with them if they help stay under budget.

5. Look for Savings in Other Areas

Shopping second hand is an easy way to slash some of your costs, as brand-new clothes often have high markups. If you’re working with uniforms, look for potential discounts or trading programs within the school.

6. Buy in Bulk

Oftentimes you’ll find supplies packaged in bulk like notebooks or pens — your local box store or warehouse store will usually have these items. Buying more upfront will save you later on, knowing your kids will still need the basics and you’ll be fully prepared.

7. Ask Around for Unused Supplies

Chances are there will be a parent or two with unused supplies that they’re willing to part with. You might even have some of your own items that you can trade.

8. Remember Your Budget for Next Year

It’s easy to get caught up in the rest of the year and forget exactly how much you spent on all the school supplies, but storing your budget in a filing system or on your computer will help you keep track of the stores you shopped and the deals you found.

This will make next year’s shopping even more efficient, because you’ve already done the legwork.

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