Back to School Savings Covid Style


The 2020 school year will be one for the history books.  The smiles of the first day of school will be hidden behind mandatory masks. Children will be told to physically distance and never before has hand washing become so important. No doubt most parents have concern or fears about how this school year will play out.  So many Nova Scotians have been struggling financially as a result of the pandemic and     this year presents unprecedented expenses that parents must consider. 

  1. Masks 

Since masks are required to be worn by most students, it’s important to plan on having several on hand for each child. If your child is like most, they will either forget or lose their mask often.  You may need to keep one in the backpack, one in the desk at school and several at home as replacements. Disposable masks are relatively cheap if bought in bulk however they are for a single use. Over time this can add up and there is also the environmental impact to consider.  Making your own masks can save money if you are crafty. They can be washed and reused which is more economical. Using discounted material or material you already have at home also saves cash.  For free reusable cloth masks, you can still pick one up at most Halifax public libraries and museums.                  

  1. Hand Sanitizer

While schools may have this upon entry, most parents will likely send the kiddies to school with a small dispenser of hand sanitizer in their backpack and maybe one for their desk in the classroom. Consider buying a large 1L container of sanitizer to refill the smaller dispensers when they get low.  No doubt we will all be using it for many days to come so a little extra wouldn’t hurt.  

  1. Lunches 

School cafeterias will most likely remain closed, therefore, planning lunches is critical.  Talk to the kids and make them a part of the lunch planning so food doesn’t go to waste. With the CERB soon ending, every dollar will count. Children are more likely to eat the lunch you made if they participate in its planning. Plan lunches around leftovers or weekly food specials. Purchase produce that is in season for a more affordable healthy option. Research online for upcoming deals and plan accordingly.        

  1. School supplies

The 2019 school year ended very abruptly in the spring. Chances are that you already have school supplies so shop at home first. Search around your home for supplies and make an inventory of what you have and what you need to purchase for this upcoming school year. Consider needs vs wants. Last year’s backpack could be reused but maybe a new lunch box is a good comprise (and much cheaper).  Checking out flyers and online sales. Most retailers have items on sale and you should consider buying an extra identical supply for home use. Depending on what transpires with cohorts at the school, the classroom may move once again onto your kitchen table. Online learning would certainly be easier if you already had school supplies on hand at home.    

  1. The Second Wave

Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen but they say “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”.  Unfortunately if there is another wave in classrooms, you might be once again stuck at home for days. Aside from COVID, flu season is also coming. This means further prep is required as parents and kids may be at home more often.  You should have a plan for at least a 14 day supply of essential items including food. While you could stock pile extra non-perishable groceries now for a “just in case” scenario, you should also consider creating an emergency grocery fund to cover potential extra expenses such as food and medicine.