August is here, which means it's time to start thinking about back-to-school shopping. If you're on a budget, this can be a stressful time of year. Between the rising cost of living and the increasing cost of education, it can be tough for anyone to prepare for school without breaking the bank.
But, don't worry, help is always available! Whether you're a parent shopping for your child or a student shopping for yourself, there are ways that you can save money and still get everything you need for a successful school year.
iCASH, Canada's trusted online loan provider, has compiled a list of tips to help you do back-to-school shopping in a cost-effective way. By following these few simple tips, you can ease the financial burden and make this time of year the best it can be.
Enter iCASH's Back to School Giveaway
If you want to get your hands on some serious savings, why not enter iCASH's Back to School Giveaway? Starting Monday, August 15th, you can enter for a chance to win one of five $50 Staples gift cards - a perfect way to jumpstart your shopping.
All you have to do to enter is visit the iCASH contest page and share with us your best back-to-school DIY hacks. This could be anything from how you make your own school supplies to creative ways to save on lunch. Each day, we will choose and share the winning DIY school hacks on our social media pages (so, make sure you're following). If you're not already, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram to ensure you're in the know.
Look at What You Already Have
Before you start shopping, it's always a good idea to do a thorough search of your home. You might be surprised at how many things you already have that can be reused for school. For example, last year's backpack or notebooks that are still in good condition. Or, if you're a parent with more than one child, take a look at what your older child has from last year that can be passed down to your younger one. It's important to make use of what you have before buying new items - this will save you money and help reduce waste.
One of the best ways to save money on back-to-school shopping is to shop second-hand. You can find great deals on lightly used items at places like garage sales, consignment stores, and online marketplaces like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. When shopping second-hand, make sure that the items are in good condition and that they fit well.
Looking to make some extra cash? You can also make use of these platforms as a selling tool. For example, you can list your old items for sale for other people to shop second-hand. It's a great way to earn some money to put towards your back-to-school budget.
Some things you can do to get started are:
- Gather any old clothes, shoes, and accessories that you no longer wear and list them for sale.
- If you have any textbooks from previous years, sell them online or to a local used bookstore.
- Look for any electronics, like laptops or tablets, that you no longer need and list them for sale.
Set a Budget
One of the most important things you can do when shopping for anything is to set a budget. Determine how much money you have available to spend and then set a spending limit for each item on your list. This will help you avoid overspending and ensure that you stick to what you can afford.
If you're a parent, involve your child in the budgeting process. This will teach them the importance of spending money wisely and help them understand that there is a limit to what can be bought. You can start by looking at last year's school expenses and use that as a guide for setting your budget.
Use Cash Only
This tip goes hand-in-hand with setting a budget. Once you've got your budget set, decide to use cash only for school shopping expenses. This means that you will only spend the amount of money that you have available in cash. It also means that you won't be tempted to put any items on credit (especially if you leave your debit or credit cards at home).
You may be surprised how much this simple tip can help you stick to your budget. You may even like it so much that you decide to use the cash-only method for all of your future shopping trips - not just for back to school. When you have to physically hand over cash for an item, it makes you think twice about whether or not you need it.
If you love to shop online, there are a few ways you can save money on your purchases. First, take advantage of online coupon codes and discounts. Many websites offer up-to-date lists of online promo codes for a variety of retailers.
You can also subscribe to newsletters and follow your favourite stores on social media to stay in the know about current sales and promotions. Many retailers will offer a discount for first-time online purchases.
Get Cashback on Purchases
If you're looking to earn cashback on your purchases, sign up for free cashback programs like Rakuten. Rakuten is a website and app that allows you to earn cashback on your online purchases from over 2,500 stores. All you have to do is create an account and then start shopping through the Rakuten app or website. Cashback payments are sent quarter by PayPal, cheque, or Amazon e-gift card. You can even get $25 for every friend you refer to the platform. That's a pretty sweet deal if you ask us!
Before you make any purchase, try comparing prices. You can do this by going to the store and checking the price tag (if it's available) or by searching for the item online. This will help you find the best deal on an item and avoid overspending.
When comparing prices, don't forget to factor in things like shipping costs and taxes. Sometimes, an item may cost less at one store but the shipping costs make it more expensive overall.
You can also use the Google shopping tab to quickly compare prices from different stores. Simply type in the item you're looking for and then click on the "shopping" tab. This will show you a list of prices from different stores so you can quickly find the best deal.
Wait for Sales
Good things happen to those who wait! If you can hold off on your shopping, do it. Many stores offer big sales leading up to the start of the school year (usually in late August). By waiting for these sales, you can save more money on your purchases.
If you're really patient, you can wait until after the school year starts to do your shopping. This is when many stores offer clearance sales on back-to-school items. Of course, this means that you may not have the exact items on your list but it's a great way to save money.
Ask About Student Discounts
If you're a student, you may be surprised to find out that you can get discounts on a variety of items - not just school supplies. Many stores offer student discounts on clothing, electronics, food, and more. All you need is a valid student ID.
Some popular stores that offer student discounts include Apple, with its special education pricing, Microsoft, with its free Office 365 for students and teachers at eligible institutions, and more. You can also purchase an SPC card, which is accepted at many retailers. The card only costs $11.99/year and offers year-round discounts of up to 30%.
Plan Low-Cost Lunches
Packing your own lunch and snacks is a great way to save money, especially if you're eating out every day. It may take some extra effort to prepare your meals in advance but it's worth it when you see how much money you're saving.
If you're short on time, you can also prepare your lunches for the week on Sundays when you have more free time to shop for food and get it ready. And, if you're looking to save money on groceries, consider getting a discount grocery store membership like Costco, or use apps like Flipp that allow you to compare grocery store flyers for deals.
Shop Smart This Back-to-School Season
With these simple tips in mind, you're ready to start back-to-school shopping without breaking the bank. Just remember to plan ahead, compare prices, and take advantage of sales and discounts. Even if you already follow some of these tips, there's always room for improvement. After all, every little bit counts when you're trying to save money!
If you still find that you need an extra hand when it comes to being able to cover the cost of back-to-school expenses, you can always consider getting a short term loan from iCASH. As a licensed online lender in Canada, we offer easy loans of up to $1,500 with fast approval and flexible repayment terms. Plus, we operate completely online, so you can get access to instant cash any time, anywhere.