1. Back to school is on the horizon, meaning parents with school-age kids (and likely lengthy lists in tow) have been or will be opening their wallets for new gear and school supplies.
  2. And unsurprisingly, it can get expensive. So we asked our readers to share how they keep their budgets intact and save their dollars ahead of the incoming new school year.

    Coupons, price matching and sale-hunting were the go-tos in the money-saving toolkits of most parents who responded. But many also touted reusing — and reusing and reusing. 

    We've compiled some of your responses below:
  3. Reuse, reuse, reuse: no need for all-new everything — especially clothing 

    Be it school supplies or clothing, many parents encouraged carrying over items from previous years and reusing. In particular, clothing, given that children tend to outgrow or wear them down fast.
  4. "I try and keep all pens/pencils/markers from past years in a large bin, so that come the beginning of the school year I can recycle them again. I do the same thing for binders and folders, if they're not broken don't fix them. I bought binders with sleeves for title pages so that every year we can make new folder covers as an art project to make them feel new, even if we are recycling," wrote patty.

    "In June, all the backpacks, lunch bags, and school supplies get put away. Just before school starts we pull them out and they feel new enough and interesting to the kids. Only occasionally do we need to add or replace a few things," wrote raspberries.
  5. We are lucky right now our kids are in elementary school and our school has a $30 fee each and a few extra's that I managed to get on sale. The most expensive part will be the shoes. I'm not doing the whole new wardrobe this year. Just going to buy as needed, much cheaper. I also don't go and buy brand name. The kids wear it out in a week, or grow out of it in 4-6mths. Waste of money to buy a new wardrobe at the beginning of the year. My teen though costs us at least $50 in school supplies alone.
  6. Unless your kids ran naked all summer they already have clothes, so they don't need a whole new wardrobe, and a few pens, pencils, and some paper will hold them over until the assignments start and you know what they "really" need. Buy a few basics and wait is how I shop for the kids! $30 - $50 tops!
  7. Tips to save, buy clothes as your kids grow....they don't need a whole new wardrobe just for back to school! My girl gets 1 outfit for the first day! Buy on sale and second hand. Only buy a new bookbag when they wear out the old one! School supplies are bought by my daughters school, so each parent just pays a fee anytime through the year which pays for the next year! Buy reusable snack and sandwich bags/containers/water bottles etc. Kids don't need to be spoiled with brand new everything every year!
  8. "Simply put, reuse last year's stuff. Replace only what is actually broken or used up, buy only new stuff that is actually needed and you didn't have. We have kids in middle and high school and we've done very little B2S shopping in all their school years. Clothing is similarly added or replaced as needed, and based on real needs not school calendars," wrote Concerned Canadian.
  9. this year we're also doing it a little differently. My kids have soooo much clothing (we're lucky to get a lot of hand me downs!) , so each just gets a token new outfit...they're in Grade 1 and 3 this year, so the pressure isn't as high for name brands and everything new as it's going to be in a few years. We also bought backpacks and lunch kits that will survive the year this year. I figure if we start getting only what we need over the next few years, my kids will be "conditioned" to understand why when they get older. It's not about the clothes and the new stuff...it's really about their education and who they grow into. And brand name shoes, 16 outfits and an iPad won't make them smarter or a better person.
  10. Thanks for sharing, TheDivine Christa Forsythe! What made you decide to hold back on buying your kids' an entire new wardrobe this year? Was back to school clothing a big expense in previous years?
  11. Cost, for one thing. A plethora of clothing for another! It doesn't make sense to keep buying when we have what we need. We'd like to teach our kids about consuming/wanting/buying less, and if we "buy" into the crazy consumer spending sprees for every occasion, then we will have failed. Also, we avoid brand name clothing for our kids. They don't get paid to advertise. LOL!
  12. Invest in durable long-term items like backpacks and lunch bags

    And on the heels of reusing, some parents say invest in items like backpacks and lunch bags that will make your dollars go further.
  13. Tips to save, buy clothes as your kids grow....they don't need a whole new wardrobe just for back to school! My girl gets 1 outfit for the first day! Buy on sale and second hand. Only buy a new bookbag when they wear out the old one! School supplies are bought by my daughters school, so each parent just pays a fee anytime through the year which pays for the next year! Buy reusable snack and sandwich bags/containers/water bottles etc. Kids don't need to be spoiled with brand new everything every year!
  14. "Backpacks, if you buy good ones, can last for years," wrote patty.

    "You don't need to buy everything new every year. Backpacks for example can last multiple years," wrote williammorgan.
  15. as far as clothing goes, I have been slowly stocking up all summer, when local stores have sales I will purchase the items and then put them away (in the closest not to be touched) until next week. Also, I have found that buying quality backpacks/lunch kits (things they can't grow out of) means they last more than one year, so a bigger expense when first purchasing, but longer lasting = saving money in the end!
  16. Shop at outlets — even across the border

    One parent suggested shopping at outlets, in your home city or even across the border, for deals.
  17. The 'shop local' people are going to scream but I save substantially by shopping outlets in the usa. Shoes are ridiculously cheaper.
  18. Thanks for sharing, Louise! Is this something you've been doing every year?
  19. Yes, pretty much. I lived in the usa for three years and the variety and prices were amazing.
  20. Shop (or swap) online, including eBay and online classifieds like Kijiji or Craigslist 

    Many parents recommended shopping online and have found success on eBay and classifieds sites for items like a graphing calculator and zipper binders. 
  21. Kijiji and parents sites on FB!! And sales!!
  22. Thanks for sharing, Misty! What have you purchased from Kijiji? And what do you share/swap in parents' groups online?
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