Back-to-school Shopping Tips

Back-to-school shopping tips

Yes, it’s that time all over again.

You’ve sat on the beach, driven the kids to summer camp, gotten an awful sunburn and wondered why you wait so long to take vacation every year.

Yet, sadly – as with all good things – summer always comes to an end, and with that, comes back-to-school shopping.

Yet, there’s no need to fear! I know this can be an especially expensive and anxiety-inducing time of year…

But I’m hoping these tips would make the process more efficient...and less painful. Especially for your wallet.

What do you really need?

Now, this might seem obvious, but there are some strategies to consider:

  • What does the teacher’s list say?
  • What does your child need/want?

Check the teacher’s list

Most teachers tend to give a list with the end-of-year report card.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’ve only got a week or two before school...Yes, it’s getting last minute, but there’s no need ring alarm bells just yet.

While the requirements here are going to vary from area to area, let’s take a look at a few common items you’ll need for your fourth grade student in the Vancouver Public Schools district with a few leads on where you can get these items:




Hudson’s Bay

Extra Tip

1 box of crayons - 24 ct.




Washable crayons can help save the burden of extra laundry (and cost, tears, and frustration).

2 large glue sticks




These last well if the cover is tight. Check to see if you have any from last year.

1 pair scissors (metal blade)




Buying a quality pair can last throughout elementary school.

2 packages yellow #2 pencils - 12 ct.


($4 x 2)

$5.94 ($2.97 x 2)


Cheap pencils can save money upfront, but if they break every day, that doesn’t work. Consider buying at least mid-grade quality.

1 backpack (name inside)




These tend to be hugely overpriced when you consider the value and quality. I would buy better quality and let your child use it for several years.

1 box of tissue

$0.92 (5.49  for 6 pack)

$0.87 (1 box)


Kids tend to share everything, including germs. The 3-ply, anti-germ versions might be your best friend (and save on any medical costs)

Total Cost



$37.56 (excluding the pencils & tissue)


Now, perhaps these aren't really appropriate to your needs.

So if you have other items that you need, we’ve got you covered.

As noted here by Stephen, you can take advantage of Canadian stores that offer free shipping.

I’d also encourage you to use the list of top price comparison websites here too, as well as cash-back options.

Best backpacks list

If you’re looking for backpack recommendations, here are a couple of lists for ideas:


Depending on your kid’s age, this may be a year for a new laptop:




(as of publish date of this post)


Dell Inspiron



Performance (for bigger kids going to college or university)

Dell Alienware



What does your child need/want?

Now, this is definitely where planning and Vulcan mind melding with your child can come in handy. Apologies to the Star Wars/Star Trek fans:

In a day where children have an increasing amount of influence in buying decisions, it’s important to include them in the buying process.

Why get them involved? Because this helps kids start learning about good consumer sense as they grow.

Helping them understand their priorities might include questions like:

  • If you use all of your allowance to pay for something, what would it be and why?
  • We have a budget of X to pay for your school supplies. What will happen if you want something that costs more than that? Can you help us develop a budget that works for you?
  • Are there things that we could reuse from last year? What would those items be?

With these questions as a basis for a discussion, helping your child(ren) realize they may be able to reuse items they already own can be very positive and empowering.

In an Instagram world, it’s nice for kids to be able to know that the “newest” thing doesn't mean they are cool or not.

Related: Addictive Consumerism: The Danger of Collecting Shopkins

Back to you

Do you have any tips – or deals – to share?

Tell us in the comments below.

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Kathryn's picture

No comments yet? I am not in this *demographic* but still interested. This story showed up online today on with more back-to-school tips from moms (do dads not have any?) - the headline does say *parents* discussed on facebook, but the ones quoted were moms

August 26, 2017 @ 3:05 pm

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