! Tips

Save a bit of money for "hidden" school costs - Put a bit of money away each month for your child's extra school activities, such as school plays or field trips. These unplanned costs can be tough on a cash-strapped family.

Extra-curricular activities - There are many benefits to involving a child in extra-curricular activities, but there are costs involved as well. Consider getting necessary sports equipment at a store that sells used sporting goods or rents items. You may also be able to rent musical instruments. Even if this does not work as a long term solution, it can keep your costs down through the trial phase.

first day of school

The first day back to school is a major event for both you and your child. The costs associated with school are continually on the rise and it can be difficult for Money Mentors to manage.

it Activities

Buy school supplies in bulk with friends

Talk to the parents of some of your child's friends to see if they would be interested in combining efforts. Taking advantage of bulk discounts then splitting the bill can make the initial stock-up purchase a lot easier to handle. The kids can pitch in by checking flyers, catalogues and online resources to find the best bulk bargains. If the purchases are spread among several stores, each family can handle one part of the list, which will also save on time and transportation costs.

If you really want to Make it Count, try starting an initiative in your school to negotiate bulk buying of school supplies for the whole class.

Pack lunch together

Packing a lunch versus buying lunch is a big cost saver, for both you and your child. Take some time together before each school day to pack your lunches. If you both have the same lunch, you'll cut down on preparation time, save money, and probably end up with a much more nutritious meal than you would buy. Have your child help you scan the weekly supermarket ads for bargains on favourite lunchbox selections.

Packing a lunch can mean big-time savings:

Giving your child $4.00 a day for lunch money starting in grade one will really add up over time. Roughly $4.00 a day - $20.00 a week - $800.00 a year = $9,600.00 by grade 12! If you were to invest this money over the years, you'll have paid for a nice chunk of postsecondary education!