Things you need to be a student that money can buy: pencils, notebooks, erasers. Things you need to be a student that money can’t buy: everything else.

There’s something magical about back-to-school shopping.

The smell of brand-new textbooks, the neon ink of a fresh highlighter, the glide of a never-before-used pen across the first page of a crisp notebook. It really gets us revved up to crush the upcoming semester.

A person writing "conquer" in their notebook.

But, we’ll be honest, there are some things about shopping for school supplies that are…less than ideal. So, here are six ways to overcome them and make your back-to-school shopping a little bit easier:

1. Reuse and repurpose

Before you head out for a haul of new supplies, see if you have anything salvageable from last year (hint: you probably do!)

The more you can reuse, the lighter your load will be this time around.

Reduce reuse recycle triangle.

2. Prioritize and purchase in waves

You fill up your cart with everything you could possibly need this year (and some things you don’t but grabbed just to be safe). And, you feel great — until you see your total, that is.

Buying all your supplies at once can be overwhelming and impracticable. So, instead, spread your shopping out over a few trips. Buy the things you absolutely need for syllabus week first and leave the things you can afford to hold off on for later.

Just do it...tomorrow.

3. Know where to splurge and where to save

The dollar store is a student’s best friend. So are secondhand shops. But, some essential items are worth investing in. Which ones?

Well, that may vary from person to person. Before deciding on an item, ask yourself:

  • Will I still be using this next year?
  • How crucial is this to my day-to-day life?
  • Would it be more efficient to save up for a higher-quality version of this item or risk having to re-buy the cheaper version?
  • If I take good care of it, could the cheaper version of this item get me through the semester?
A coin drops into a piggy bank.

4. Split your list with your housemates

Your dorm or apartment probably doesn’t need three can openers, four coffee makers, two toothbrush holders…you get the picture.

If you know who you’re living with before moving in, see if you can divide up the responsibility to purchase household items.

High five.

5. Beg, borrow and barter

OK, maybe not the first two. But a school supply swap can help you and your friends save some cash. Got an extra calculator from high school you don’t need? See if you can trade it for your roommate’s old laptop case.

By the time you’re done going through your stash, you and your circle will have reduced your final shopping lists.

Michael Jordan extends his hand and says "deal."

6. Let IGNITE foot the bill

So, you’ve stockpiled all your stationery, snacks and subway fare — and then you realize your program requires things you didn’t budget for. You know: uniforms, field trips, tool kits and all the other extras that are essential to your learning but easy to forget.

IGNITE’s Learning Essentials Support (LES) program is set up to provide exactly that.

If you’re a full-time student at Humber College or at the University of Guelph-Humber, registered in a program with learning essential requirements, you can receive up to $500 per year to pay for your courses’ necessities. All you have to do is fill out a quick budget calculator to explain your financial need and, if your application is accepted, IGNITE will transfer you the cash via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

Squidward showers in money.

Applications for the Fall 2021 iteration of LES open Tuesday, Sept. 21. To submit yours, log into your MyHumber account and go to Student Awards and Financial Aid → Apply for Scholarships.

Presently, LES is exclusive to programs with essential learning items. If your program has essentials not listed in the application, please email IGNITE’s Career Success Lead, Jordyn Read. For further information regarding our LES program, please review our FAQ page.

Unexpected price tags shouldn’t hinder your back-to-school shopping experience. So, as always, IGNITE’s got you.

IGNITE’s commitment to your finances doesn’t stop there. Applications for the Fall 2021 iteration of our Financial Relief Program (FRP) open Monday, Sept. 27.

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