Back-to-School on a Budget

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CALGARY, Aug. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - The euphoria of back-to-school shopping has begun, and many Albertans will spend thousands of dollars and a countless amount of time in shopping malls across the province. With creative television commercials and many other diverse marketing tactics, big-box retailers have refined their arts in making sure every message captures the attention of consumers just like the holiday shopping season.

According to, Canadian parents will spend approximately $472 on their children for 2016 back-to-school season. With the state of Alberta's economy and the uncertainty, Money Mentors advises Albertans to be prudent with their finances and stick to the budget when shopping for back-to-school. To avoid overspending and not put a dent in your finances, here are some ways students and parents can curtail their spending:

  1. Check Current Inventory – As simple as this seems, there may be a surprising number of supplies already in your home from last year's purchases. Your child may have also brought home unused school supplies from the previous school year. Make sure you check your closets and drawers for these supplies first.
  2. Create a budget – Creating and sticking to a budget based on your current financial position and back-to-school needs will help you to remain in control of your overall finances. When creating your budget you need to consider your income, monthly financial responsibilities, savings, emergency funds and other incidental payments. Heading out shopping with a realistic budget will limit you from over spending when back-to-school shopping. 
  3. Only buy needs – You do not need the coolest or fastest laptop if you can't afford it. At Money Mentors, we believe that the key to controlling spending and being in charge of your hard-earned money is about deciding on what to spend and on what not to spend.
  4. Don't pay full price – Shopping around gives the best bang for your buck and there are countless retailers offering great discounts. Compare the best deals in flyers, in-store discounts, and online. Keep in mind that you do not have to buy everything new. Used textbooks, resources from your local library, clothing from consignment stores and items from buy and sell websites such as are often as good as new.
  5. Use cash – Pay with cash when shopping in stores and stay away from credit cards if possible. Generally speaking, cash limits you from being talked into buying the next level up item or adding features you do not need. Cash can limit your ability to over shop, and allows you to buy what you have budget for only. Additionally, using cash constantly prompts you about your spending and also protects you from impulse buying while shopping.
  6. Buy in bulk with a friend – Per item cost is often much cheaper at warehouse stores such as Costco; however, you will often end up with more than you need and can quickly over spend. Buying teaming up with one or more friends to purchase necessary items together you can take advantage of warehouse prices without breaking your budget.


At Money Mentors, we counsel parents and students that you do not need the coolest gadgets or newest designer clothes to be a successful in school. What you need is a realistic budget and discipline, which will lead to wise financial decisions. Parents also have an opportunity to teach their children wise spending habits by adhering to these guidelines.

About Money Mentors
Money Mentors is the only Alberta-based, not-for-profit credit counselling agency. Through a number of services, we help families and individuals recover from financial crisis and move forward. From credit counselling and money coaching to retirement planning and community financial literacy, we are contributing to a healthier financial future for the entire province.

SOURCE Money Mentors

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