Do the math: Back-to-school shopping adding up to record spending

Texans pay no sales tax on most clothing, shoes, school supplies August 6-8

So long, summer. Hello, binders, backpacks and what looks to be record spending on back-to-school shopping.

Brian Garcia’s strategy for stocking up for his two kids is just to get it done.

“Honestly, we buy it all at once because there’s no guarantee of a sale,” he said.

Do the math. Supplies, computers and clothing add up. Families with children in grades kindergarten through 12th will spend an average of $849 this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s $59 more than last year and a record.

For starters, almost everything is just costing more.

“There’s the microchip shortage that’s affecting especially tech products, laptops and tablets,” said Consumer Reports’ Samantha Gordon. “Then, there’s just pandemic-related inflation on everything overall.”

While there will be sales, Gordon says they don’t expect to see discounts as deep as usual.

So, if it’s time for a refresher course on penny-pinching 101, here are some simple strategies to help you save.

First, make a list and a budget.

Before you even head out, shop your home. You may have more glue and crayons in those cupboards than you recall.

Of course, look for sales and compare prices, but ask about student discounts, too -- particularly on technology.

Spread it out. Your kids won’t need everything on day one, and it won’t be cool enough for a sweatshirt for a while. Prices on some items will drop after classes start as stores clear shelves.

For supplies, try dollar stores or big warehouse clubs.

“Maybe even team up with other families in the neighborhood,” Gordon said. “Buy in bulk and split costs.”

And save the tax. This weekend, August 6-8, Texans pay no sales tax on most clothing, shoes and school supplies.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.