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Six effective ways to save big on back to school shopping


To parents of school-aged children, it’s considered one of the most wonderful times of the year. But for many Canadians, back to school means more trips to the cash register and more debt.

Clothing trends, smartphones, and electronics seem to be replacing the pencil and paper generation, putting a damper on a time of year where parents bid farewell to the idle days of summer and celebrate the return of daily routine. So, with parental happiness drowning in a sea of receipts, how can you help make back to school wonderful again?

It all starts with finding simple ways to save. Here’s how:

1. Create an inventory of what you really need

Before stepping foot in any stores, take stock of what you already have. Have your child try on jackets, clothes and footwear to see what still fits in order to make an accurate list of needs while eliminating the wants.

Each item that fits is potentially one less expense – you’ll be surprised at how effective this is.

The same can be done with school supplies. Review the back to school supply list provided by teachers and start by checking off what you already have in your home to cut down on expenses.

2. Focus saving more on big ticket items

There’s a good chance you’re going to find deals on smaller items like pencil crayons and notebooks wherever you shop this year. Focusing your energy on achieving the most savings on big ticket items like laptops and smartphones will give you the greatest return for your time when it comes to coming in under budget.

Research back to school deals online to hunt down the best sales while making comparing prices easier. Simplify your search by taking advantage of savings sites like, and to find featured discounted items for back to school and digital flyers for major retailers, all in one place.

3. Follow stores on social media and sign up for email lists 

Liking or following your favourite stores on social media is a good way of staying connected to sales and contests that could end up saving you hundreds of dollars.

Signing up for mailing lists can give you exclusive access to deals, coupons, discount codes, and more. And don’t worry, you can always unfollow or unsubscribe once your back to school shopping is over.

4. Know when to spend more to save more

Deciding on inexpensive school supplies is a simple choice – the cheaper the better. But when it comes to frequently used items like backpacks it’s a good idea to sacrifice saving and concentrate on quality.

Being frugal on items that see a lot of action could mean having to purchase replacements before the year is over. On the other hand, buying more durable products could see accessories like backpacks and lunch boxes last over multiple school years saving you money over the long term.

5. Swap with friends and family

Kids outgrow clothes and sports equipment. And sometimes they just get tired of the same old stuff. This may seem like a negative, but there’s an opportunity for a savings win here.

Hosting a clothing exchange with fellow parents or creating a private swap group on Facebook is a fun and easy way to both repurpose your used items and replace them with new ones for little or no cost.

6. Shop outlet malls for brand names

Back to school spending adds up faster when you’re shopping for more expensive brand name clothing and footwear. One way to get a win for your wallet and earn parent of the year points is to hit the outlet malls when seeking out the on-trend labels your child wants.

Outlet malls offer popular brand names for attractive discounts, which can make a huge impact on your overall spending.

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. With the right plan and a little ingenuity, you can stay on top of your spending this year.

Speak to a Meridian Advisor to learn more about creative ways to save.

Meridian Credit Union communications are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice or an opinion on any issue. We would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations if desired.

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