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Back to school: Shopping smart to start the new year off right

Posted on Monday August 12, 2019

Back to school: Shopping smart to start the new year off right

With the start of the new school year right around the corner, our thoughts naturally begin to turn from lazy summer days to the hustle and bustle of autumn. And while it’s easy to lose track of your budget and shopping intentions, you’re always better off planning ahead. From spending less to taking advantage of available financial assistance, here are some money-saving ideas for the return to school. Look them over while you sip on a cool summer cocktail!

Recycle, reuse and reclaim: it’s creative and wallet-friendly

Young people are more environmentally aware than ever, and it’s inspiring to watch them collectively embrace this noble and important cause. So why not guide them in putting their words into action? Looking through your house, you may be surprised by the things you find at the backs of drawers and closets, forgotten on bookshelves or even in that legendary hiding place between the cushions on your sofa.

With a little imagination, you can bring new life to old objects, for example, by colouring them (binders, Duo-Tangs, pencil cases, erasers), decorating them (backpacks, lunch boxes) or adding stickers (calculators, laptops, tablets, pencils and highlighters).

Try proposing a theme such as your kids’ favourite musical group, TV show or sports team, or “How I spent my summer.” Whether futuristic or retro, your children’s imaginations are the only limits! Take this concept to the next level by refreshing certain items using only recycled materials. Your kids may find this challenge motivating as well as a source of new pride and a renewed sense of commitment. And to celebrate going green, consider also taking part in the Défi de la boîte à lunch écologique (“Eco-friendly lunch box challenge”) as a family and fully embracing the pro-environment movement.

Second-hand clothes: Staying trendy at a fraction of the cost

To feel good, keep their spirits up and stay ahead of the latest trends, young people love to keep adding to their wardrobes on a regular—if not weekly!—basis. To help keep up with their fashion aspirations, students at Cité des Jeunes A.-M.-Sormany high school in Edmundston started up a thrift store to browse through when they’re not in class. All clothing items are priced at $1 each as well as in current fashion and good condition. A similar store was launched at École Marie-Esther in Shippagan, and the concept has since been gradually implemented at schools around the province. Ask your teens! A store like this may already be up and running at their school.

Consider also visiting your local Guy’s Frenchy’s, and keep your eyes open, because new thrift stores seem to pop up regularly (another example being Deuxième vie in Caraquet). Fredericton even boasts a second-hand clothing store just for children: CrabApple Kids Boutique. Stay in touch with the times we live in, go green, and pass these values on to your children with pride. Who knows, you may even come across an entire back-to-school kit!

Government agencies and support: Aid for back-to-school purchases

We’re fortunate to live in a province that’s sensitive to the importance of education, the needs of families and children, and helping improve the daily lives of New Brunswickers. Take advantage of it! Every July, the New Brunswick Child Tax Benefit (NBCTB) is topped up with a school supplement amount to help low-income families cover the cost of school supplies. In real terms, this means that if your adjusted family net income for 2018 is $20,000 or less, you will get $100 for each of your children born between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2014. A more than welcome boost funded entirely by the Government of New Brunswick.

All around us, there are organizations that actively support families and youth development to help make our lives easier. In Moncton, the organization Headstart provided school supplies to 1,066 children in 2018 through a major fund-raising campaign and with support from numerous sponsors. Check with your municipality—there may be a community centre nearby that is just waiting to help.

If you have a registered education savings plan (RESP) or would like to start contributing to one to help fund your children’s post-secondary studies, keep in mind that the government makes annual matching contributions up to a maximum amount, increasing your young ones’ opportunities to dream bigger and go further!

With all of these options at hand, you can look forward to fall with greater peace of mind (and continue enjoying summer while it lasts!). Shop smart and take advantage of the generous financial support available to you so you can focus on sharing your children’s excitement about the new school year!

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