Tell me back-to-school isn’t the most wonderful time of year. Change my mind! I dare you.
Just like every summer, it seems the time has flown by and we’re already starting to prep for the new school year. Admittedly, I’ve eschewed the mall in years past, preferring to complete my shopping online (often, without input from my boys). I mean, it’s all the same to kids, right?
Except, this year, I don’t have kids. I have young men: Ryder is entering grade 6 and Reid is entering grade 4. They’ve both reached the age where they care about their clothing, shoes (excuse me, “kicks”) and absolutely every accessory that I’ll be sticking a label on (they may be young men, but they still lose stuff all the time). For the first time, they’ve asked to actively participate in back-to-school shopping! Because I have wonderful memories of shopping for all my “must haves” with my mom, I decided to forgo online shopping and take the kids to the mall. The experience? Priceless.
This year, I’m sharing my best tips for back-to-school shopping – the old school way!
1. Plan for a fun day! Fuel up with a nourishing breakfast at home, but give into the kids’ food court desires for lunch. (For us, this usually means burgers and shakes!) Whatever you do, don’t rush through the day – you only have a set number of back-to-school shopping sessions with your kids before they’re off to post-secondary studies. Give them your undivided attention and take an active interest in the newest styles, hottest trends and what “all the kids are wearing”. Also, shopping on a weekday when the mall is usually less busy will help keep your patience in check.
2. Set a budget per category. Fair warning: kids want everything. Especially when shopping in-store, it’s easy to cave in to impulse purchases or overspend on items that weren’t on your original list of things to buy. Rather than setting an overall budget, I set a budget per category. For example, if I were to go shopping with the mindset that my overall budget was $500, I could conceivably use more than a quarter of it on shoes alone. Instead, I’ll set a budget for the shoe category at $75, making it more likely that I’ll shop within those parameters and resist overspending.
I always use my Mastercard when shopping because a) let’s face it, who carries cash?, b) I have a record of all my spending in one place, making it easy to plan for the following year, and c) while I’m spending for the boys, I’m earning rewards for myself! With many cards, you can earn points for every dollar you spend, in addition to other benefits such as extended warranty, purchase protection and more! Note that benefits vary by issuer – find a card that’s right for you.
3. Speed through checkout with contactless payments. Why fumble with cash when you can simply Tap & Go for purchases under $100? You can use your contactless-enabled Mastercard or device wherever you see the universal contactless symbol for an easier checkout. It’s so simple! And in case you were wondering, yes it is VERY safe! Encryption protects your transaction data, and since your card or device never leaves your hand, it reduces the risk of loss or counterfeit. What’s more, safeguards are in place to bill you only once if you accidentally tap twice (trust me, I’ve done that!).
Remember: less time at the checkout = more time making memories with your children. This year, how will you complete your back-to-school shopping? Whether you shop in-store or online, have fun and enjoy this special time with your little ones!
This post is sponsored by Mastercard. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.