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Back-to-School Debt: Here’s What Parents Should Know

Back to school is coming – and it could cause you to add more to your current consumer debt load if you’re not careful. Although we hate to ruin those relaxing summer vibes, it is a good idea to start considering how you will deal with the added expenses. As most parents know, the cost of school supplies, clothing, backpacks and electronic devices can quickly get overwhelming.

Here’s what parents should know now to get ready for September:

Many parents admit that back-to-school shopping is a financial strain

If the mere idea of back-to-school shopping stresses you out, you’re not alone. A 2017 survey  revealed that many Canadian families spend more on back-to-school purchases than they do on holiday gifts! It’s no wonder that over half of all parents surveyed felt that this spending but a strain on the family finances. Almost four in 10 parents said it took them months to repay their back-to-school bills.

A budget can help you plan ahead

To avoid spending too much on school gear, it’s important to have a plan. This online back-to-school budget calculator from Practical Money Skills Canada will not only help you determine how much you will need to spend this year, it will also help you stick to the budget (and avoid overspending and debt) when you do go shopping for clothing and school supplies.

You don’t need to buy everything at once

Although back-to-school commercials may have you feeling like you need to check everything off your list before school starts, this isn’t the case. If you want to avoid unnecessary debt and pocket some savings, buy just the essentials at the start of the school year. Purchase the rest of the items on your list – like extra classroom supplies, clothing, laptops and tablets – during the school year when they’re on sale or on clearance.

There are options to spend less

Even if you do need to do quite a bit of shopping in order to prepare your kids for school, there are strategies for saving and avoiding additional debt while doing so. Use credit card rewards points, shop second-hand or consignment, look through your leftover stock of school supplies from last year, or opt for refurbished electronics instead of brand new.

Check out personal finance writer Kerry Taylor’s blog on her website Squawkfox for more ways to save as the kids go back to school.

Are you worried that back-to-school shopping will land you deeper in debt? How do you plan to avoid adding more consumer debt while still getting your kiddos ready for class? Join the conversation and share your thoughts! #BacktoSchool, #DebtSolutions and #ParentingTips.

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