Personal Finance

5 Savvy Spending Tips for Back-to-School

Disclosure: I received a gift card to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

My kids are looking forward to going back to school and I won’t lie, I’m excited about it too. It means we can get back into a routine and the late nights of summer vacation will be behind me. I’ve wrapped up the last bit of my back-to-school shopping today. I wasn’t excited about having to spend all this money at once, but it needed to be done. Good thing I’m frugal and shop sales and coupons whenever possible!

43% of Canadian parents view back-to-school as a financial burden on their families. I completely relate. It’s not cheap. I only have two kids to buy for and I can only imagine the costs of families with a large number of children to buy for.

5 Savvy Spending Tips for Back-to-School

Sandra Hanna, co-founder of the Smart Cookies, shares her top five savvy spending tips for this back-to-school season.

1. Hold Off On Trendier Gear. Thirty-four per cent of Canadian parents feel the pressure to purchase trendy items to help their child fit in at school. The problem is, trends come and go – and often very quickly!  Kids may love a certain lunch box or pencil case they find in August, but once school starts and they see that their friends are all using another kind they’ll beg you to upgrade.  Hold off on the more trendy purchases until school starts rather than spending double… it will pay to wait!

2. Cheapest Isn’t Always Best. When it comes to items your kids will use all year round, like backpacks, it pays to invest in quality. Think about price for longevity and factor that into your cost comparison. However, don’t forget that you can still find a great deal on a high quality backpack for about $40, especially if you stack your savings. Doing a quick search on sites like will help you find promo codes for some of your favourite retailers and brands, saving you a few dollars on that backpack.

3. Go For Reusable Lunch Supplies. Don’t waste money on plastic utensils and paper napkins that get thrown out after only one use. If you throw away bags and bottles, you’re basically throwing your money in the garbage. Instead, use cloth napkins, real flatware and reusable containers for food and snacks. It pays to invest in products like LunchSkins which are BPA- and phthalate-free reusable snack and sandwich bags that can go in the dishwasher. It’s a small investment, but they last forever.

4. Deals Aren’t Just For the Kids. Despite 43 per cent Canadians feeling back-to-school can be a financial burden, the shopping season can also bring a ton of sales! While you’re stocking your kids up for the school year, don’t forget to take advantage of the lowest prices of the year on computers and other office equipment. If you’re in the market, now is the time to save on that new laptop you’ve been eyeing from top retailers like Best Buy.

5. Share Your Shopping. Forty-four per cent of Canadian parents agree back-to-school shopping is stressful, so why not share the stress and costs? You can save money by buying school supplies in bulk especially if you split the cost with another parent. Compare shopping lists with friends and neighbours to see what you both need. By buying in bulk at stores like Costco and splitting the cost, you can save money for the more expensive items.

I’ve taken Sandra’s advice and visited to search for deals and promotions. At RetailMeNot, you can find sales, coupons and more at your favourite retailers. I’ve been using for several months and always check the site before I checkout at any online retailer. Do this too and you’ll thank me later when you save $$$.

The first store I  visited was Dynamite to see what they had for Olivia, my 17 year old daughter. I found a coupon code on RetailMeNot for 15% off my order and free shipping over $50. Olivia is always complaining she is cold at school so I picked her up a cute white overpiece she can wear to class.


Sandra also mentions that back-to-school deals aren’t just for kids. My current purse has a broken zipper and I saw one on Dynamite that looked perfect for me at a great price. I ended up saving $13.93 with the coupon code on my total order.


I saw Joe Fresh listed as one of the stores as I was browsing through RetailMeNot. I purchased a bunch of clothes there just before summer started for Bridget, my 10 year old daughter. RetailMeNot alerted me to their current clearance sale. This sale is phenomenal with up to 70% off clearance. I just missed the extra 10% coupon code on clearance items unfortunately. I wish I had visited yesterday. I still ended up getting a fabulous deal!


I purchased nine clothing items from Joe Fresh for $59.30, taxes included and free shipping. I even snagged a shirt for myself too. I couldn’t pass up the savings.

Visit to check out the coupon codes and sales at your favourite retailers. Whether you’re shopping back-to-school or “just because”, bookmark this site so you always remember to look for ways to save money before you buy!

What is your favourite promotion listed on RetailMeNot?

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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