It is getting to be that time of year when most families are thinking about purchasing school supplies for the upcoming year. Back-to-school shopping is the second-largest consumer spending category after holiday shopping, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation and Research Now. An additional survey conducted by Deloitte found that 32 percent of families expected to spend more on school supplies this coming year because either their children needed more items, because materials were increasing in price, or because students needed more expensive supplies.
An increase in back-to-school expenses can be a strain on family budgets. In a 2016 survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending climbed to 55 percent over the past 10 years with the average family spending $107.76. A family could end up spending an estimate of $674 on back-to-school shopping when including other expenses such as clothing, shoes, and electronics,
Despite rising costs, back-to-school shopping does not have to be a budget-buster. A little pre-planning and early shopping can help avoid extra spending. Nationally, 73 percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop a month to three weeks before the start of school.
Here are some ways to shop smart during the back-to-school season:
- Timing Matters: Look for end-of-summer sales and tax-free holidays, especially on big ticket items. In Ohio, the tax-free holiday starts on Friday, August 4, 2017, at 12:00 a.m. and ends on Sunday, August 6, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. To learn more about this tax-free holiday weekend, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation website.
- Plan Ahead: Before making new purchases, take an inventory of supplies already available around the house. From there, make a list of items still needed. Two-thirds of consumers are likely to buy more than what is on their list, so be sure to stick to a shopping plan.
- Avoid Fancy Supplies: Instead of spending money on the brightest, shiniest, and glitteriest supplies with a licensed logo – which adds cost – create do-it-yourself art projects for kids to decorate their own supplies.
- Use Technology to Find Deals: Let technology help save money by doing an online coupon search, monitor favorite stores’ website and social media accounts to get advance notice of sales, and sign up for coupon links.
- Stock Up: If there are good deals for certain supplies that have an on-going need then stock up on those items in case something runs out, gets lost, or breaks.
To learn about credit unions and how they can help plan for the back-to-school season, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.