Back to School Expenses: Filling Shortfalls

back to school expenses lrg

School is nearly back in session and with it back-to-school expenses.

Whether you have children who are heading back to school, or you’re returning to college or university and managing student loan debt, this time of year can be expensive.

According to an Angus Reid poll of more than 1,500 Canadians, conducted on behalf of, Canadians expect to spend $883 per family on back-to-school supplies and fashion. That’s $325 more than they spent on holiday gifts.

More than half of the parents surveyed said that back-to-school shopping puts a strain on household finances, with nearly 40% reporting that it takes months for them to pay off the bill.

Post-secondary students dealing with student loans may be in the same boat. You might be living on a shoestring budget but facing the daunting expenses that come with the back-to-school season.

So, what can you do if you can’t afford the back-to-school expenses you require? The answer isn’t to rack up your credit card bills or take out a payday loan!

We’ve put together a list of options to close the gap:

1. Shop Second-Hand

While new is nice, used can be just as good – and cost a lot less.

Before heading to full-priced department stores, check your local thrift stores, second-hand shops, and yard sales. You can even browse online on sites like eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, or the local buy and sell Facebook group.

For college and university students, textbooks can be pricey, but your school may have a used bookroom. If not, you might be able to find the book in the library or online for a cheaper price.

It doesn’t hurt to look!

2. Sell Items You Don’t Need Anymore

Along the same lines, if you have clothing that your children have outgrown, or textbooks that you no longer need, why not sell them and use the profits to buy your new school supplies?

You could advertise them online in the same places you are looking for deals. It’s a safe bet that others are, too, and you might have just what they need.

3. Make a Must-Have vs. Nice-to-Have List

While there are certain expenses that you can’t skip, there may be some that aren’t a necessity. For instance, does your child really need a new backpack, or will last year’s do the job?

Take stock of what is actually necessary and what you can hold off on. Pencils and pens may be a necessity, but they don’t have to be mechanical pencils and gel pens. Look for less expensive options where possible.

4. Organize a Swap

Something else that can work well is to get together with other parents or friends in your community and do a clothing/school supply swap. This way you can get rid of items you don’t want, while also finding what you need.

This can work especially well for clothing that is too small or you are tired of. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe without spending a dime.

5. Spread Out the Spend

If there are pricier items that you or your child would truly love for back-to-school, do you they need to be purchased now?

For instance, if your child wants a tablet or laptop, could that be a holiday or birthday present instead, or a reward for a great report card? This can give you more time to save up the money for the purchase.

This can be done on a smaller scale too. Those fancy gel pens. That decorative notebook. The new backpack. They aren’t necessarily needed for the first day back to school – so perhaps hold off until you have a month with more room in your budget.

6. Take Out a Personal Loan

Finally, for those items that are costly and necessary, taking out a personal loan may be the answer. With a personal loan from Prudent, for example, we offer same-day financing that you repay on a fixed schedule. This way you can plan for exactly what you will need to repay and when.

This can allow you to afford more expensive purchases up front and pay them off over time, without racking up high interest payments or harming your credit score.

Learn more about our financing options for back-to-school expenses and student loan debt. Call 1-888-852-7647 or visit for a free consultation.

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