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Back-to-school shopping: How can parents stretch their dollars to pay for supplies and clothes for their kids?

With school getting back underway soon it means stocking up on supplies for the year ahead. Here are some of the best ways to save.

The CPI data for July will be released on Wednesday. How much more will families be spending on back to school this month?
Stephen LamREUTERS

As students head back to school this year, families will be looking to find the best prices on supplies and materials to start the new semester on the right foot. With inflation becoming a serious threat to the finances of many Americans, being able to adequately equip school children could become a burden.

In fact, 26 percent of parents and guardians expect to spend more than $500 on school supplies this year, up from 7 percent in 2021. This study, conducted by Morning Consult, puts into context the scale of the problem.

“The price of everything went up — gas, food prices — everything just went up high,” Kewanna Heard, a mother of seven children, told wfyi Indianapolis, “And your job is not paying you as much to sustain your living. So it’s been real hard.”

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To try and keep ahead of the curve, here are a few ways you could save this school season. Considering a survey taken for Credit Karma showed that 42 percent of parents with kids in school planned to take on debt to pay for school shopping shows this likely won’t be enough.

Not everything needs to be bought now

While some parts of school equipment are pretty essential, like notebooks and pens, other items may be less necessary. Gel pens

Once schools have returned, expect the prices of back-to-school items to drop as shops liquidate stock. That could be the best time to buy things like bags and shoes if the current ones can survive a bit longer.

For many supplies, top-of-the-range may not be necessary for a child. “If your kid is doing most of their virtual learning in a browser, they’re probably OK with a Chromebook,” rather than a more expensive laptop, says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at DealNews..

Holidays and sales

Some states have tax-free weekends in August and September, 17 of them. These could be the best times to purchase school items if you happen to live in one of these states.

Although times like Amazon Prime Day have ended, there should be plenty more sales to pick up what you need before September.

A growing child

Pens and paper will remain the same whatever the age of a child. What won’t, however, are clothes sizes. Schools tend to charge a lot for custom-branded school uniform so buying that shirt or jumper a size or two too large will save money in the long run.

While non-branded items are likely to be cheaper, this tactic could still be useful.


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