Back to School Budgeting TipsParents everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief as their kids go back to school. However their happiness at no longer having to keep young ones amused is tempered by the worry of school-related costs: supplies, class trips, clothing, etc.

We feel your pain. Here are some ways to lessen school sticker shock

Take Stock

Usually panicked about the approach of school, parents rush out to buy the things they think their kids need, racking up bills fast and furious.

Take a deep breath and take inventory. What in fact do your kids really need?

Check their closets and clothes drawers. Maybe some of their garments and shoes can be used again. They don’t need umpteen new outfits.

Call their teacher and see what supplies the students will require through the year. Don’t just guess. And again, check what your child already has. Perhaps you’ll find that she has kept notebooks she didn’t use last year.

Make a list and, when you go shopping, stick to it. Don’t make impulse buys.

Go Cheap or Go Home

Of course, look for sales. Don’t be afraid to go to thrift stores, used stores, outlet malls or massive department stores that buy a wide range of items in bulk, reducing price tags.

Do you have friends with kids about he same age? Perhaps they have extras of things you need and vice-versa. Do an exchange. Don’t feel ashamed. There are whole economies built on the barter system.

Speaking of swaps and sales, don’t forget web sources. Besides the usual online retailers there are sites like eBay, Craigslist and Kijiji, where parents can find bargains and do swaps.

If you do go to an online retailer, first google their name and “coupon” to see if there are any savings to be had.

Don’t Get Guilted into Overspending

When shopping don’t get guilted into buying a name brand or the item with the highest price tag. With backpacks, for example, there are a huge number of styles with some at the top end sporting eye-popping price tags. Take a breath, ignore the prices and look for ones that seem sturdy, look nice and will do the job. If among these there’s one for sale at a reasonable price, go for it – proudly.

Procrastination May Work in Your Favour

Perhaps you are already feeling guilty because you should have done your shopping earlier. Rejoice. Waiting a little works in your favour. After getting through the prime sales time of late August, retailers will start putting on sales in September to get rid of inventory. So you can save, save, save.

Also, why buy everything in one shot? Purchase the clothes that your child needs now but don’t buy a school year’s worth. Shop for clothes as the year goes on. That way you can get just what they need, when they need it, and you can keep your eye open for sales.

This way you can spread your pain around.