Back to School 2023: The price tag of back-to-school shopping

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Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 9:09 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - This year, 80 percent of families plan to see higher prices when shopping for the first day of school, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Inflation has really been affecting families across the board and back to school shopping is no exception. You can definitely expect to pay more for you back to school shopping this year than you did last year and that puts a lot of financial pressure on families. It is going to be a big challenge this year shopping around to find better deals because unfortunately prices are up.” Kimberly Palmer explained.

Palmer is a personal finance expert at NerdWallet.

By now you may have already thought of different ways to save and here are a few more:

  • Shop at home
  • Start shopping as soon as you can
  • Make your lunch at home
  • Wait to buy items you don’t need right now
  • Buy in bulk
  • Make a budget to track your spending.

“What do you have left over from last year that you can use to the upcoming school year? A lot of people may overlook the fact that they have perfectly good folders that they can use. Maybe notebooks that are only half used that were only half used rip out the pages that were used and you have something that will get you through the first few months of school,” Andrea Woroch explained.

Woroch is a consumer money saving expert. She says the some of the best ways to save money is take inventory of what you already have.

“Families that have multiple children or if you have extended families, I would suggest get together and do a back to school swap just because something is gently used does not mean it is not going to be exciting or new to your child,” Woroch added.

If you haven’t started your shopping already, time is running out!

“For every age, even if you need new products for yourself as an adult for your home office, you want to basically start shopping as soon as you can, Kimberly Palmer explained. “In the summer time you usually see prices dip. We see a big uptick in summer sales and that is why you want to be ready to make the purchase as soon as you see the price drop,” Palmer said.

Once you pack up your backpack, it is time to think about what is for lunch. Depending on your locality and household income, your student may get lunch for free.

“If you are required to pay for a lunch, you really have to ask yourself, it may only be five or six or seven dollars but you can probably make your own lunch for even less,” Woroch said.

Buying in bulk can be a good idea but be sure it is the non-perishable items, so you don’t end up wasting the food you don’t eat.

“For little snacks, buy in bulk and then use zip lock bags to separate individual bags. That is going to be cheaper than buying that box of individual chips or popcorn or crackers or whatever it is,” Woroch said.

There are some items you should be waiting to buy.

“The teacher can advise you on what you actually need on the first day so you don’t have to buy everything all at once and that can really help your budget to spread out the purchases. Also you want to be in touch other families because often you can save money by buying in bulk,” Palmer said. “If each child for example needs one set of crayons or one notebook you can actually team up and make that purchase in bulk and then divide it up among families and that way you are reducing the total amount you are spending.”

If you student is in college Palmer says encourage to practice maintaining their budget now so when they get to the dorm they are ready. Maybe even have them get a summer job and do some saving of their own.

Woroch says the first thing to track your spending is make a budget. Are there subscriptions you don’t realize your paying for?

“Overall whether you are shopping for back to school or just maintaining your budget through the year make sure you are tracking your expenses it is just like when you are trying to diet and you are trying to cut your calories you have to see how much you are consuming to know how much you need to cut back maybe how much you have left throughout the day to consume so it is similar to that spending and tracking all your dollars,” Woroch said.

For more information on how to get ready for the new school year, click here.