As the new school year approaches, American families are preparing to dig deeper into their pockets to equip their children with necessary supplies. According to the National Retail Federation, the total spending on school supplies this year is projected to soar to an unprecedented $41.5 billion, marking a significant increase from the previous year as inflation continues to exert pressure on the economy.
These rising costs translate to an average expenditure of approximately $890 per family, a $25 increase from last year, setting a new record. As families grapple with these escalating costs, financial experts are stepping in with advice on how to maximize back-to-school budgets. Key strategies include reusing supplies from the previous year, shopping competitively using online tools, and leveraging potential community resources and student discounts.
Parents to Spend More on School Supplies Amid Inflation
Parents are expected to spend more on school supplies this year, with the total spending projected to reach $41.5 billion, an increase from the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation. The average spending per family will be around $890, marking a $25 increase from the previous year, and setting a new record amid inflationary pressures on the economy.
Maximizing the Back-to-School Budget
With families facing these rising costs, shopping expert Trae Bodge from Truetrae.com offered some advice to help parents make the most of their back-to-school budgets. Firstly, she suggested reviewing at hand materials to avoid unnecessary spending. "Last year’s backpack may contain supplies that can be reused," she said, also recommending that children try on all their school clothing to determine what still fits and what needs to be replaced.
Bodge also advised parents to shop competitively using coupons and historical price comparisons. The PayPal Honey mobile and desktop browser extensions, for instance, automatically search for the best coupons at checkout. The historical pricing feature also helps consumers know they are getting a good deal.
Utilizing Community Resources
For those who are financially challenged, Bodge suggested utilizing community resources like loaned laptops offered by schools and school supply packs for families in need. She also mentioned the potential benefits of state tax-free holidays, encouraging families to familiarize themselves with the details before shopping. And, for a cost-effective approach, Bodge recommended finding a local school supply swap or online community group.
Stretching Your Budget and Earning Rewards
Budget-stretching tools such as PayPal Pay Later, which gives the flexibility to split payments over time, can be particularly useful. Bodge also suggested using a flexible credit card that aligns with back-to-school spending needs. For instance, the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers the ability to earn 3% cash back in one of six categories of your choice each month, including online shopping, drug stores, and dining.
Jason Gaughan, head of consumer credit card products at Bank of America, recommended selecting the ‘online shopping’ category to earn 3% cash back during the months of bulk shopping. In addition, many retailers offer their own loyalty programs that customers can join to earn rewards for future savings and discounts.
The rising cost of school supplies amid inflation is a concern for many families. However, by utilizing shopping strategies like competitive shopping, making use of available community resources, taking advantage of payment flexibility, and utilizing reward programs, parents can significantly stretch their back-to-school budgets. It’s crucial to stay informed and strategic to make the most out of your spending.