#BackToSchool: How to Keep Your Debt Load in MindAug 01, 2018
As any parent of school-aged kids knows, the back-to-school season can be very expensive. Costs can add up pretty quickly, and so can debt. In a 2017 survey, 40 per cent of parents admitted that it takes them literally months to pay off their back-to-school bills.
Whether your children are heading to elementary school, high school or post-secondary, how can you ensure they get the supplies they need without blowing your budget or adding a load of debt?
How to send your kids back to classes without adding to your debt
First, some advice for next year: getting a head start on back-to-school shopping and planning can really help. When this upcoming school year ends next June, make note of those supplies that can be used again. Start looking for sales and deals as early as July. And try to spread out your school spending over a few months to make the expenses more manageable.
But not to worry. Even though the first day of school is just a couple of weeks away, there are strategies for keeping your costs down:
- There’s still time to evaluate what you already have on hand. Can you reuse any supplies from last year?
- Buy only the supplies you know your child absolutely needs in the first couple of months of the school year. After-season sales start after the school year begins.
- Your kids probably don’t need a closet-full of new clothes on the first day of school. Limit this spending now, and continue to look for sale items over the next few months.
- For those supplies and clothing that you need now, keep an eye out for flash sales from your favourite stores. And be sure to compare online prices vs. in-store prices. You could also choose to save by shopping consignment stores or second-hand.
For more great back-to-school saving tips, check out these resources:
- K to College: 10 Back-to-school saving ideas for everyone from Squawkfox.com is a list of the best back-to-school blogs from personal finance writer Kerry Taylor. Good ideas for parents of kids of all ages!
- Check out these 5 Back to School Saving Tips from MoneyWeHave.com.
- This mother of five children offers advice on how to go Back to School On a Budget on YummyMummyClub.ca.
Budgeting and tracking what you spend will be the two most important tools to help you get your kids ready for school without negatively impacting your debt load.
How to manage money and debt when your child is university bound
Back-to-school spending for a university or college student is a whole new ball game. Your child will be dealing with tuition, living costs if they move away from home, textbooks and supplies, and a load of other expenses that can easily strain on any family’s finances.
At this point, you and your child may already have a plan for how you’ll cover post-secondary expenses. If you don’t, the government of Canada has some excellent resources and tools on the Student Financial Assistance section of their website.
Did you know that under the 2017 enhancements to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), many students may receive significant non-repayable financial assistance? It’s worth checking to see if your child qualifies for this assistance.
If you haven’t already discussed it, talk to your child about any financial contributions you’ll make to their education. Will you be offering them financial support? How much are you able or willing to give? Also, make sure your child understands the importance of having a budget and keeping track of their spending while they’re in school.
Finally, these articles have some great information and advice that can help your university student manage their money:
- A five step plan to help university students manage their money – The Globe & Mail
- How to start saving for a university education at (almost) any age – Maclean’s
- Budgeting: Samples and Tips! – FuturFund
- How to save thousands of dollars at university – Maclean’s
- 15 Ways to Save Money in College – TeensGotCents.com
When you’re getting ready to send your kids back to school, it’s always important to keep your own debt in mind. Sometimes money-saving strategies aren’t enough. If you know that school expenses will overwhelm your budget and end up on your credit card balance for months, don’t hesitate to get help with your debt. There are many different debt relief options that can help you reduce your existing debt load and get your finances back on track.