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Column: School savings for your scholar

By: Heather Tarnopolsky - Budget Reboot

 | Aug 13, 2014 - 9:43 AM |
Don’t be stuck draining the bank account to meet the growing needs of classroom essentials this semester. Apply money-saving tips to ensure your mini Einstein has everything needed for their academic potential.

Don’t be stuck draining the bank account to meet the growing needs of classroom essentials this semester. Apply money-saving tips to ensure your mini Einstein has everything needed for their academic potential.

Once upon a time, students required very little supplies in order to start the school year on the right foot. Pencil, paper, ruler and calculator usually covered the basics and not much else was needed.

Things have come a long way since the good ol’ days. By summer's end, parents can be seen scrambling to outfit their scholars with the latest gadgets and hottest gear, not to mention the coolest attire.

Don’t be stuck draining the bank account to meet the growing needs of classroom essentials this semester. Apply the following money-saving tips to ensure your mini Einstein has everything needed for their academic potential.

Desk supplies
Often parents face a long list of materials required to keep their child’s learning curve on track. Keep it affordable by applying these few tips below.

Plan for what’s needed, not what they want. Write down items that are essential to have for the classroom. Little Lucy doesn’t need hot pink pencils with purple pony erasers at $10 a pack.

Opt for no name brands and stay away from big box stores. There are several dollar-based general stores that provide essential school supplies at $1-$2. That adds up to huge savings.

Spread the word among family that you’re looking for gently used school supplies. Maybe a cousin has a few things to pass along from the previous school year? Lightly used free items are a sure way to save your money.

Student attire

Buying new clothes can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one child starting the school year.

Rather than rushing out to shop for a whole new wardrobe, take time to reorganize what they already have worth keeping. Write down what can still be used and bring the list when it’s time to shop. Purchase what’s needed to complete a new look and stick to lower brand and sale items.

If money is stretched for a new wardrobe, stick to the more important areas like footwear and seasonal clothing such as boots and a coat if needed. Ask family for gently used clothing, hand-me-downs are an excellent way to save money and still create a new look for your child.

If shopping for new clothing is necessary, shop smart by creating mix-and-match outfits. Purchase shirts and pants that can be matched a few different ways, creating more looks for less.

Lunchbox savings

Preparing affordable, healthy lunches five days a week can be tricky, let alone if you have a fussy eater or two.

Save on lunch now and then by packing the previous night’s leftovers. Use leftovers when there’s no reheating required the next day.

Keep it healthy and low budget by providing chopped fruits and veggies. Only use produce that’s in season to avoid over paying. Prepare bundles ahead of time to pack in the lunch bag every school day.

Keep a reusable bottle for refilling with flavoured water or home prepared juices. Stick to no name snacks and sale items and buy in bulk to save in the long term.

Take advantage of good deals through school programs like pizza or hotdog day. Your child will enjoy a treat, you won’t have to pack a lunch and there could be some savings, too.

Happy new school year.

Heather Tarnopolsky is a Sun Life Financial advisor in Greater Sudbury.

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