Fab Frugal Back-to-School 101

Fall is a wonderful time of year – kids go back to school and Moms everywhere rejoice! We may be happy about the return of our normal schedules, but we aren’t necessarily jumping for joy at the thought of spending a ton of money on back-to-school stuff. Even if your child isn’t of school age, there’s a good chance you’ll still have daycare and preschool-related expenses. So how can you make back-to-school a little easier on your wallet? Read on for a few tips that will help you save some cash so you’ll feel guilt-free when you book that much-needed mani/pedi!

1. Buy gently used items

Is your son begging for a new scooter to ride to school? Has your daughter outgrown last year’s bike? Items like these are best bets to find on popular buy-and-sell websites like Craigslist, Tradyo and Kijiji.  Many items offered on these sites are 50% of the retail value… a coup to many who are looking for gently used items at a fraction of the price.

2. Shop store closings

As unfortunate as it may be, stores close every day – and they need to liquidate their stock.  Currently, Zellers stores across Canada are selling off all their merchandise, as the chain is set to close its doors this year. I’ve purchased everything from Play-doh to children’s running shoes and underwear at Zellers over the past few weeks, all at great prices.

3. Buy minimal school supplies

Call your child(ren)’s school and ask if they have a school supply list (many do!). This will ensure you only buy the essentials… not just what junior says he needs.


4. Stay abreast of sales via email

 If you love a particular kids’ store or brand of children’s clothing, be sure to get on their mailing list. Subscribers usually get advance notice of sample sales and seasonal markdowns, which come in handy when buying back-to-school wardrobes.


5. Buy clothes that do double-duty

This year, I’ve already purchased two designer dresses for my daughter, one of which she’ll wear at Christmas.  I was notified via email of an end-of-season sale, so I acted quickly and found some amazing pieces in my daughter’s size – for half off. They are not only practical purchases, but beautiful as well.


6. Label everything

 Once you’ve crossed everything off your list, the one thing you won’t want to forget is to label it all so you (hopefully) won’t need to buy it again in a few months.  Kids are notorious for losing stuff, so labeling it offers some peace of mind. My favourite labels and tags are from Oliver’s Labels. They’re extremely customizable (choose from over 40 designs, 17 fonts and 100+ colours) and you have the option of adding a free Found-it™ code to your labels and tags. If someone finds a lost item, they are directed to visit the Oliver’s Labels website and enter your unique code and leave you a message, which gets relayed to you anonymously via email. Genius, right?  I loved this idea so much that I even bought labels for myself for coats, umbrellas, hats… anything that is easy to leave behind. (In case you’re wondering, this is the design I chose – so fun!) Kids love choosing their own labels, and they can pick a different design and font for each type of label in a package if they wish. How cool is that?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you I am an Oliver’s Labels Agent. I tried their products a few years ago and thought they were better than the other brand I had tried. I loved them so much that I wanted to sell them to all my friends and family.

Hopefully these tips will make back-to-school shopping a little less expensive and a whole lot more fun.  As for me, well… my school checklist is quickly being whittled away, and it’s been practically painless. (With two kids, that’s saying a lot!!)

Best wishes for back-to-school!


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