you to the head of the class
By Wendy Helfenbaum
GET OUT YOUR WALLET and take a deep breath. access to pre-season promotions and
Here comes the one shopping spree most parents product availability, advises Le Masurier.
dread: the back-to-school bonanza, complete with “If you see something in July that your
the school supply list that seems to quintuple kids could use for back to school, pick it up.
YOUR MOST important every year. You’re not going to have that $5-off coupon
A 2007 study conducted for the Retail Council for sweatshirts the week before school starts.
of Canada revealed that Canadians spend approxi- If your child doesn’t like it, you can easily
the right backpack.
mately $350 to $400 per child on school-related bring it back. Don’t leave shopping to the last
A top-quality backpack
items. But getting your child ready for school minute, because then you won’t have the selec-
will last your child several
doesn’t have to be a teeth-grinding experience, says tion, and you’ll have to fight more crowds.”
years, and may prevent seri- Costco member and mom of two teenagers Sherrie
ous back injuries as well. Le Masurier, a Peterborough, Ontario–based pro- Mix + match = maximum value
Many children lug back-
fessional organizer. Make your child’s wardrobe go farther by
“If money’s tight and you’re on a budget, be choosingclassic styles.“Go for quality basics in your
packs that weigh as much
practical. Before you do any back-to-school shop- kids’ favourite solid colours that will mix and match
as they do, says the U.S.
ping, do a complete inventory of what you already with the rest of their clothes,” notes Le Masurier. “If
Consumer Product Safety
have,” she suggests. “Have the kids with you to try you’re going to splurge, do it on accessories like a
Commission, resulting in stuff on: What doesn’t fit? What do you really need?” cool scarf or a fancy belt.”
thousands of visits to the
Going through closets and drawers might Air-drying cotton T-shirts and hoodies instead of
yield a surprising stash of items that can be reused popping them in the dryer saves energy, helps colours
emergency room each year
or repurposed. Last year’s scissors and geometry stay bright and reduces wear and tear on clothing.
for back injuries.
sets may still be in good shape. Stickers and sten-
Here’s what to look for
cils can spruce up leftover supplies, such as plain Supersize it and go green
when choosing a backpack
binders or notebooks. Litter-less lunches are all the rage these days.
for your child: Going garbage-free minimizes your child’s impact
Pick a lightweight Get your kids involved on the planet, plus it’s very budget friendly.
Children as young as 7 can help create a back- Le Masurier routinely saves up to $200 per
bag with multiple compart-
to-school shopping plan during the summer year per child by spooning bulk yogurt, apple-
ments that is the proper
months, notes Le Masurier. “Discuss the difference sauce and juice into reusable containers instead of
size for your child; children
between the ‘needs’ and the ‘wants.’ Give older kids a purchasing pricier single-serving food items for
should never carry more
little more flexibility on how they’re going to divide her teenagers’ lunches.
than 15 per cent of their up their budget. They soon realize that if they spend Splurge on quality storage containers. The multi-
more on shoes, they’re going to have less for cloth- coloured, stackable containers are microwave, freezer
ing. It can be a good lesson.” and dishwasher safe. Le Masurier assigns one colour
to each family member to make lunch prep a snap.
the load of heavy books;
Tag team Pack everything in a sturdy, PVC-free lunch
opt for a waist strap for
Once your list is complete, “Team up with a box cooler. For extra value, look for one that has a
friend or neighbour for maximum savings,” adds Le leak-proof removable liner and a bonus stainless
Padded, adjustable Masurier. “Shop together and get lots of variety. If steel water bottle.
shoulder straps ensure max-
you’ve both got kids that are the same size, buy Family budgets are tighter than ever this year,
multi-packs of socks, underwear and undershirts.” which might make back-to-school shopping even
imum comfort. Make sure
Shopping over the summer means greater less appealing for many parents. Why not shop out-
your child uses both straps
side the box by teaming up with friends, involving
so the pack fits snugly
your kids and spending your money where it’s going
against his or her back.
The Costco Connection
to count the most? C
Reflective trim offers Check your local Costco warehouse and Costco.ca
increased visibility at night.
to help stretch your back-to-school dollars. Items Wendy Helfenbaum,
to look for include backpacks, storage containers, is a writer and TV producer in Montreal.
clothing items and more.