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5 Tips To Find Cheap Back To School Supplies

Aug. 28, 2013
3 mins
Diverse group of kids playing outside in a circle

Haven't started your back to school supplies shopping yet? Well, now's the time! Back to school season means big bucks for retailers: according to a recent Pollara survey, Canadians intend on spending an average of $428 per child on back-to-school items, including school supplies, clothing and technology. That’s an increase of 18.2% over last year. Looking to find cheap back to school supplies? Read on for our savvy shopping tips.

Level Of Spend Differs With Age

The amount parents plan to spend is dependent on the child’s level of schooling. For kindergarten and elementary school-age children, parents plan to spend $170 per child. For junior high and high school kids, parents plan to spend a little more at $226 each. Parents plan to spend a much higher $572 per child in post-secondary education. Of those doing the shopping, 95% say they plan on limiting the amount of money they spend on back-to-school supplies.

Score A Sweet Deal

According to the poll, 65% of parent shoppers look for deals and use coupons. Check the flyers regularly for sale items like loose-leaf paper, binders, pens and pencils – even backpacks. Spend a little time comparison shopping online and devise a plan for which stores you’re going to hit first for the best deals. 

Visit More Than One Retailer

Sixty-two percent visit more than one store to save money with the best prices. You can do this on foot by watching the deals roll in as the return to school gets closer, or online, where new deals are posted daily. When it comes to technology, be sure to shop around. Future Shop, for instance, will price match, but only if the cheaper price is found on a Canadian site online – or in-store and you can prove it. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars by doing this. All it takes is an internet connection and a few minutes. Sometimes I comparison shop right in the store.

Reuse What You Can

Just over half - 51% - of parents urge their kids to reuse supplies that are still in decent shape. As well, wherever possible, look for used items instead of buying new when shopping. Try online sites like, for some items, although be careful not to buy a dud. Also, try Value Village or other gently used shops for cheaper items, including clothing. 

Buy Only The Bare Minimum

According to the poll, 53% say sticking to the essentials is key if you’re on a budget. Make a list and stick to it. Be strict about sticking to your budget. Keep track of what you’ve spent.

2013 Back-to-School prices

According to the Annual BMO Back to School Survey conducted by Pollara, parents will spend the following amounts on the following items:

  • School supplies: including pens, pencils, lined paper, binders, erasers, sticky notes, highlighters and notebooks.: $25 to $40
  • Clothing: including a pair of jeans, a sweater, a pair of running shoes, three pairs of socks and underwear.l: $250 to $350
  • Accessories: including a backpack, pencil case and lunch bag.: $35 to $100
  • Miscellaneous: including magnets, a lock, a gym uniform and headphones.: $25 to $50

What are you planning on spending this back-to-school season?


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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