Back to School | Inflation also affects the pen box

Parents have already done their back-to-school shopping, others are using the end of August to check off the items on this list, which, driven by inflation, have been rated significantly higher this year than in recent months.

Posted at 5:00 am

Stephanie Berube

Stephanie Berube
The press

When Eliane started kindergarten, she had a brand new backpack. Pink. Carefully chosen to grow with her. Her mother questioned the style, but the little one was confident in her choice and has fully embraced it ever since. Because four years later, Eliane will still be wearing it when she returns to school in her fourth year.

From the beginning of her daughter’s school days, Marjorie Simard decided to make wise decisions when purchasing school supplies. His goal: to keep them for a long time, even if it requires more effort. “Sometimes the simple solution is not what you think,” says the curative teacher, who knows the school environment well.

Her strategy worked: With the check for $108, the surcharge paid by Quebec for the purchase of school supplies, Marjorie managed to respect her budget this year despite inflation. Alongside the backpack (made in Quebec, with a lifetime guarantee), she chooses the most durable ties (Duo-Tangs) that come back year after year, identification tags that stick to everything, and age-resistant lunchbox containers. “Yes, it costs more to buy, but when you calculate it over the years it becomes a savings,” says Marjorie Simard.


Marjorie Simard and her daughter Eliane

Noticeable increase

Inflation is putting enormous pressure on starting school this year. Nevertheless, not only Marjorie Simard relies on quality.

At the Zoubris Paper Mill, a veritable institution on Montreal’s Parc Avenue, owner Jimmy Zoubris sells just that: quality. Those who want $1 school supplies are kindly directed by the owner to the discount store a few doors down.

Apparently only a few, because the customers keep coming back. But this year, this man, who got into the stationery business 40 years ago when his father started the business, sees a difference. parents are concerned. Jimmy Zoubris estimates that the price of school supplies will rise well above inflation. Overall, the school list costs 15 to 20% more than in the previous year.

So how do the parents get there?

“They are recovering more and more,” explains the merchant, who shows us crossed-out lists as proof, because parents can take back what their children already have. Jimmy Zoubris also admits that the pretty French notebooks, high quality but more expensive, are less popular than they used to be.

A little further east, on the corner of Beaubien and Saint-Vallier, Gaëtane Daigneault makes the same observation at the Le Plateau paper mill, now part of the Hamster brand. Its customers are facing a serious increase in costs, especially for paper products. Mme Daigneault has been in the stationery business for thirty years. This isn’t the first storm, but this time the increase is particularly significant. In their opinion, the complete shopping list, which includes a backpack, a packed lunch, and a suitcase, can add up to $250 to $300. He estimates that’s nearly double the bill for the same list two years ago.

Gaëtane Daigneault also notes that parents have been waiting longer than usual this year, so much so that halfway through last week she estimated that more than three quarters of her clientele had not made their school supplies purchases.

Getting ready for the start of the 2023 school year

There is no magic solution to absorbing these costs in times of scarce resources: you have to budget for the costs.

Once the purchases are made for the start of the 2022 school year, Option Consommateurs’ Johanne Le Blanc advises carefully considering the total costs involved.

If you know there will be other school-related expenses, calculate those as well. exits for example. And that for each of the children.

Then divide that amount by 12 and save it monthly—or with every paycheck.

The start of school is predictable. Like Christmas. These costs have to be taken into account.

Johanne Le Blanc, Consumer Option

Stéphanie Paquin, household adviser at ACEF du Nord in Montreal, advises parents to set up a separate savings account. This includes all expenses related to children and it will also be possible to pay for the new sneakers in November – which will also cost more. Such an account makes it possible to better estimate expenses and make decisions. “Back to school is a hard blow,” Stéphanie Paquin admits, because many expenses add to the basic school effects, and parental guilt can easily flare up when making decisions.

It’s very hard for the family budget to spend $600 in the fall to cover all back-to-school expenses, the counselor notes. “But $50 a month is less scary,” says Stéphanie Paquin, who admits that exercising can be very difficult for someone who has never done it.

And yet it is necessary that the family does not have a problem of over-indebtedness, which would force them to pay for school supplies on credit, prolong the payment and end up paying much more. In such a scenario, debt management takes priority, recalls Stéphanie Paquin.

consumer education

Inflationary pressures are causing clientele to increase and diversify in the resource centers of budget planning assistance.

Stéphanie Paquin hopes that this autumn more participants will take part in ACEF workshops to prevent behavioral problems when dealing with money and credit.

Jessica Laflamme, founder of Do more with less, which offers planning tools and budget workshops, shares this wish. “We lack consumer education,” she says. And starting school is a really intense time. »

“It is certain that people will experience additional stress this year, believes Jessica Laflamme. When groceries cost $50 more a week, you need to find a way to do that, too. »

For Marjorie Simard, back to school is an excuse for consumer education. Éliane often accompanies her mother to the pharmacy, from the age of 9 (one and a half!). She already understands that we have to make decisions. And that if we choose a pink school bag, it will be there for a long time!

How do you get away with that for a good price?

Buy wholesale

Some items come back year after year. Loose-leaf for example. Marjorie Simard always plans to keep a small supply of these supplies and buys them throughout the year whenever a price is particularly cheap. “It avoids having to hop in the car at the last minute one night because a duo-tang is missing,” she says.

Don’t ignore lost items

Simple advice, but one not often followed, says Marjorie Simard, who is surprised at how many unrecovered items are seen in the schools she attends as a support teacher.

Save by trading

It’s a great way to bring something new without spending a penny, says Jessica Laflamme. The Do more with less founder recommends talking to co-workers, friends and family, because many parents have gorgeous lunch boxes just waiting for a second life. The advice also applies to clothing.

Discover community resources

“Even middle-class people are struggling to get there right now,” says Johanne Le Blanc, budget adviser at Option Consommateurs, which directs some of its clients to community services that many are discovering. Food banks for example. The number 211 makes it possible to discover the resources on offer and according to what criteria. Organizations are currently distributing backpacks and school supplies. There, too, the start of the 2022 school year is proving difficult. Sun Youth announced last week that it lacked resources to meet demand.

Save where possible

Back-to-school expenses are compulsory, trips are not. Financial planner Johanne Le Blanc recommends exploring free activities in your city or neighborhood this fall. There are many and those who have never done it will be surprised at what is on offer. For children, the outdoor cinema at the end of the summer or the picnic are outings that are worth many others whose bill would be much higher, she says.

And now… the lunch!


Marilyn Gagne

Because after the back-to-school shopping, the lunch party begins. Marilyne Gagné runs the discount stores in the big chains and presents capsules for preparing meals at low prices. Miss Econome’s Instagram account is simple, totally guilt-free and frankly very friendly – the can of tuna is welcome there! “I started it because I was in debt,” says Marilyne Gagné, who met with a planner to realize she could handle the family finances much better. “I want to eat well, but not expensively,” she says. Result: Her first thoughtful grocery store saved her $66. Such a sum, saved every week for a year, do the math! Since then she has shared her tips and made Miss Bursar her career. We especially liked the capsule, where it makes its first pizza dough without iteration, succeeds, and proves that it’s easy to save money without sacrificing flavor. Neither pleasure!

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