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How to Steer Clear of Additional Debt

Back to school already? We know…the last day of school was only a few short weeks ago, but it’s really not a bad idea to start thinking about the school year ahead — particularly when it comes to back-to-school expenses.

New clothes, binders, shoes, pencils, books, school fees, extracurricular activities — it all adds up! In fact, many parents admit that the costs associated with back to school can put a strain on the family budget, potentially even adding to their consumer debt loads.

Recognizing that covering all those back-to-school expenses without taking on additional debt can be financially challenging for parents, our Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) shared some of their tips in our newest podcast episode to help parents steer clear of extra debt.

Here are a few highlights:

Plan ahead

If your budget is already maxed out and you need to put those school purchases on a credit card, do it as strategically as possible. As Jayson Stoppel suggests, spread out your purchases over a few months, which will likely help to make credit card repayment more manageable.

Planning ahead also applies to next year’s back-to-school expenses. Once the bulk of your shopping is done for this school year, Craig Fryzuk advises parents to add “back-to-school expenses” as a line item in the family budget. Saving a bit each month is a practical way to prepare for the additional costs that come along every school year.

Shop strategically

Shopping at consignment or thrift stores can help parents cut costs while still making sure kids have everything they need. It’s also a good idea to time your shopping to coincide with seasonal sales. As Jennifer McCracken shares, it’s possible to get great deals on the things your kids need for school throughout the school year. July, for example, is a great time to shop for computers, as well as arts and crafts supplies. In September, after school starts, look for clearance sales on classroom supplies and fall clothing.

Balance wants and needs

For parents who are already struggling to repay the consumer debt they owe, even the thought of back-to-school expenses can be overwhelming. Even if you want to send your kids back to school with all the coolest name brands, it’s not always in the budget. Help your kids understand the difference between wants and needs, then balance the two so you can keep your spending on track and your debt in check.

How do you plan to steer clear of back-to-school debt? Join the conversation and share your tips and tricks with us. Don’t forget to include the hashtags #BackToSchool, #DebtSolutions and #ParentingTips.

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