Summer in Canada doesn't last long, and before you know it, back-to-school season is upon us. For many Canadians on a budget, shopping for the school year can seem overwhelming. Canadians spend roughly $900 per year on school anticipated purchases. But, with the right strategies and savvy money savings tips, you can make this year's shopping experience stress-free and a little more budget-friendly.
Whether you prefer seeking online shopping deals or exploring stores in person, there are plenty of ways to save money while getting ready for the school year ahead. It's about taking some time to research what you need, finding the best deals, making a budget and sticking to it, and planning out your purchases ahead of time. Reusing items from previous years or shopping second-hand is also a great way to stay under budget - even if it's just a few accessories like backpacks or lunch boxes.
Whether you're buying for yourself, your children, or a family friend, back-to-school shopping on a low budget is possible. Let's explore some of the best ways Canadians can score big savings on school supplies, clothing and other essentials.
Tips for Saving on School Supplies
No matter if you're a first-year university student or have a child starting first grade, school supplies are usually the most common back-to-school purchase. Fortunately, stocking up on these basics doesn't have to break the bank. Even if you're on a fixed income or currently experiencing a financial emergency, smart shopping strategies can save you money and get you the items you need.
Below, we’ve outlined a few ways to save on school supplies for the upcoming school year:
Look for Discounts
You can find school supplies at most large-box retailers and department stores, but be sure to look for discounts before making a purchase. Shopping around as well as price comparison in local flyers can help you find the best deals - from back-to-school sales in stores to online promotions.
You should also look at your local dollar stores and discount shops for even greater savings. Items such as binders, folders, paper and pens are usually found at much lower prices. Plus, if you plan ahead of time, you can purchase school supplies at the end of the school year when more discounts are available.
Buy in Bulk
Purchasing items in bulk can be a great way to save money, especially if you're buying for multiple children or students. You can usually find discounted large packages of paper, pens and pencils at larger stores like Staples, Walmart and Costco.
Even if you don't have a large family to buy for, buying in bulk could still work for you. Consider splitting a large quantity purchase with friends or family members, so you can split the cost and still benefit from the savings.
Use Coupons for More Savings
Using coupons is another great way to save on school supplies. You can find printable coupons online as well as discounts offered by local shops and outlets. There are also many couponing apps available in Canada, like Checkout 51 and Flipp, that offer discounts on school supplies and other essential items.
Cashback opportunities can also go hand-in-hand with couponing. You can take advantage of cashback deals through websites like Rakuten, which provides discounts for online shoppers at select retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, Indigo and more.
Reuse Items from Previous Years
You don't always have to buy a new item for the upcoming school year, especially school supplies. Before buying new, search around your home and see if any items can be reused, such as a backpack, lunch box, pencil case and more. You may even have older children or siblings that can pass down items within the home. This is not only more budget-friendly than buying new every year, it's also better for the environment.
Purchase Second Hand
Purchasing items second hand can provide big savings, especially if you're a College or University student that is responsible for buying your own textbooks. You can find used textbooks and school supplies online at platforms like Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, or Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling school supplies.
Even if you prefer finding second hand items in the store, there are still ways to save. Thrift stores and used bookshops are great for finding gently used items that won't break the bank. If you're lucky, you may even find textbooks you need for the upcoming semester at a larger discount.
Affordable Clothing Options
Much like shopping for school supplies, clothes can also be purchased for less. And, less is more when it comes to the back-to-school shopping season. Whether you're shopping online, in-store, or second hand, buying clothes doesn't have to be expensive.
Here are some easy ways to stay fashionable and save money:
Consider a capsule wardrobe, which consists of a few key pieces that can be styled in various ways to create different looks.
Purchase used clothing on platforms like eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Poshmark, or find in-store deals at thrift stores or consignment shops.
Hand-me-downs from older children are also great for creating a wardrobe on a budget. Even if you only have one child, you can find local clothing swap events and meet-ups to trade apparel with other families.
If you're buying new, shop during end-of-season sales and keep an eye out for new clearance items.
Sign up for store newsletters and loyalty programs to get access to exclusive deals both online and in-store.
Buy only what you need by sticking to the 50/30/20 budgeting rule and limiting impulse purchases.
Deals on Tech & Electronics
Living in a digital age has certainly made life easier, but tech and electronics can be costly. Whether it's a new laptop or phone, that latest gaming console or headphones, here's how you can find reliable items without having to spend too much:
Compare prices online before you start shopping. You'll often see the same item offered at different prices on different sites.
Look for bundle deals and student discounts, available at major retailers like Apple, Best Buy and Microsoft.
If your purchase can wait a few months, shop around the holidays as many stores offer sales on electronics thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Consider purchasing refurbished products, which are products that have been opened, used and returned. Generally, these items go through an inspection process and come with a warranty.
If your budget doesn't allow for you to buy new, you can find many reliable second hand items on sites like eBay, Craigslist and Kijiji. Just be sure to inspect the item in person before completing your purchase.
Don't forget to check with family and friends who might have outgrown a certain tech item that they're willing to give away or sell at a low price.
Online Retailers & Platforms
Summer is busy - and many of us don't have the time to run around town looking for the best deals. Thankfully, online shopping can help you save both time and money.
For those who prefer online shopping, numerous retailers and platforms offer great deals on school-year essentials:
Unquestionably, Amazon is a go-to destination for a variety of classroom essentials, with options for every budget. Take advantage of 'Deals of the Day', 'Lightning Deals', and other special promotions to save even more.
Even if you want to get a head start on back-to-school shopping, Amazon Prime Day, which takes place in July, can save you even more, including savings on many electronics, accessories and clothing items.
Known for its affordability, Walmart's online platform provides a comprehensive selection of classroom supplies from stationary to electronics. Check out the 'Rollback' and 'Clearance' sections for discounted items.
One of the most common places for school and office supplies in Canada is Staples. Although not always the most affordable option, Staples offers 'Daily Deals' online to make shopping more economical. Plus, if you haven't found what you're looking for at other retailers, you're guaranteed to find it here.
For parents looking for the latest technology for their kids, Apple's back-to-school promotion (usually available in August) provides students with discounts on Apple items, as well as free AirPods and other products with a purchase.
If you're looking for cost-effective solutions to back-to-school shopping, check out your local Facebook Marketplace. You can find quality items at a fraction of the cost. Although most items are used, you may find people selling new items as well. You may even be able to find someone willing to trade items for other products or services.
Old Navy Canada
During the back-to-school season, you can find discounts and sales that make it easy to buy affordable and stylish clothing to start the school year. The in-store and online retailer often has major sales, including "Today Only Deals," "Hot Deals," 40% off storewide and SuperCash promotions. Plus, with each Old Navy purchase, you can earn SuperCash that can be used toward future purchases.
Money Savings Tips for Families During Back-to-School
Parents with multiple children know the back-to-school grind can be expensive. Whether your children are younger or starting University, here are some additional money-saving tips for the back-to-school season:
Allocate a budget for each child's back-to-school needs and stick to it.
If needed, look for ways to earn additional income to help offset the costs associated with the start of the school year.
Do an inventory of what you already have on hand and the condition it is in. You may not even need to purchase new items if your current items are in good condition.
Contact the school or teacher to see what supplies your child needs and what they can do without. This will help you avoid overspending on unnecessary items.
Buy clothes and accessories a size larger to avoid having to buy new ones mid-year when things inevitably don't fit.
If possible, have your children share school supplies or textbooks.
If you're on a limited income, take advantage of government school-related grants, subsidies, and other programs for families.
Let iCash Help With Back-to-School Costs
Going back to school on a budget is possible and following the tips above can help your family save big this school year. But, sometimes, even when you've budgeted wisely, you still may need a little extra help. This is where iCash instant online loans can help. Whether you need extra funds to cover the cost of classroom essentials or have recently encountered a financial emergency, iCash allows you to quickly and conveniently apply online for a loan and get funded via e-Transfer in just minutes.