When your kids are younger you worry about spending too much on their backpacks or maybe another outfit for the start of school (this is a good thing, controlling spending early on is a good thing for the kids too, because it sets their expectations to the right level as well), but as they get older the expenses become much more interesting, and they can balloon to very large levels.
After driving up and down the 401 this past weekend seeing, Vans, SUVs and even Micras stuffed to the gills with furniture, computers, and clothes it says loudly that once your kids get to University, back to school can take an exponential jump in your budget. I am not saying that this MUST happen, just that it can happen with over-zealous parents who want to give their kids the best.
The point of University is to learn, and one of the things that kids need to learn is how to cultivate and develop their own Inner Frugality. If you buy your kids $3000 worth of furniture for their apartment, they are effectively living YOUR lifestyle (i.e. it’s just like home), whereas maybe they should be learning to live a frugal lifestyle instead? At University I had a treasure trove of old, used and scrounged furniture, and I loved it. No, my living room was not something out of “Better Homes” but it was mine (mostly my parents gave me an old dresser), and that is (I think) one of those things a kid in post secondary education (or one that has just moved out) needs, that sense of self.
Teach your kids to live within their own means, when they spread their wings and leave the nest, and that may be the most important thing they learn.