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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, according to certain office supply retailers. If you’re a parent, you may be psyching yourself up for September when the kiddies go back to school (and you don’t have to worry about how they’re spending their lazy summers). But you’ve got a heck of a lot of shopping to do before that blessed day comes around.

As fun as that can be, anyone who’s done the back to school supply circuit before knows that the shopping can quickly get out of hand — especially when it comes to the bank account. In fact, according to Kimberley Day, a financial security advisor at My Wealthy Advisor, Canadians can spend nearly $700 when it comes to gearing their kids up on supplies, backpacks, clothes and the like.

A PC Financial survey also found that 38 per cent of Canadian parents spent over $500 on each child in the 2015 holiday season alone. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that expensive, not if you follow some of these simple tips, as featured in the video above.

Figure out what you already have

This one sounds pretty obvious, but it’s something that we don’t always take the time to do. Go through all of your drawers, old pencil cases, closets and junk baskets to take stock on what you actually already have laying around the house. You’d be surprised: those pens and paperclips add up pretty darned quickly.

Use the same strategy for clothes

Kids grow quickly, but that doesn’t mean none of their clothes will fit them come the new school year. Before you assume that you need everything, check out what your kids actually have and what they may be in need of. Then when it comes to plotting out the new wardrobe, be sure to pick easy mix-and-match staples that can service more than one outfit.

clothes
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Don’t double up on supplies

According to PC Financial Chief Family Advisor Kathy Buckworth, “Supplies like staplers, tape and special writing tools tend to get lost or carried away easily in a classroom setting, so keeping them for home use ensures your kids always have them when needed. ” Instead of getting two sets of supplies, determine what’s best to keep at home and school to prevent extra spending.

Stick to a list

Hopefully your kids’ school will send home a list of required materials before the school year starts. If not, sketch out your own before you even think about getting in your car. It’s easy to make impulse purchases once you’re at the store, so if you only allow yourself to buy the items you’ve gone out to buy in the first place, you’ll save a whole heck of a lot.

Set a budget

It’s super easy to break the bank when you spend willy nilly. That may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how much easier it is to keep your costs reigned in when you write them down. Allocate a certain amount of money for each thing you need, and try as hard as you can not to compromise on those numbers.

calculator
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Look for sales

At this time of the year, you know that the sales are going to start popping up. So why would you buy something at full price? Wait it out, scour the flyers and plan your purchasing accordingly. Hey — you’ve got time, so who says you have to get everything at once?

There’s an app for that

Don’t have time to scour through all the flyers and find deals? Not to worry, there really is an app for that. And a website, actually. Flipp.com is easy as heck to use — all you need to do is head over to the website (or the app), pop in your postal code and bam! All the local deals will come to you.

Now what are you waiting for? Get shopping!