Parents doing homework, shopping smart for back-to-school as prices rise

Tax-free weekend is August 5-7

As prices rise, parents are cutting back in some areas to afford back-to-school shopping. Some smart shopping strategies can help.

SAN ANTONIO – As prices rise, parents are cutting back in some areas to afford back-to-school shopping, but smart shopping strategies can help stretch your dollar further.

In the back-to-school aisle, parents are getting a crash course in economics. All of those notebooks, folders, backpacks and blue jeans add up.

“It’s ($200) to $300 for four kids for school supplies, just the supplies,” said Brianna Eilers.

Hand-me-down school uniforms will help ease costs, but after tallying up new shoes for all four children, you get the pricey picture.

From apparel to paper, just about everything costs more as inflation runs hot at a four-decade high.

Data from the National Retail Federation show that families will be cutting back in other areas to afford back-to-school shopping.

Still, the industry expects a family with kids in kindergarten through 12th grade will spend an average of $864 for back-to-school needs. That’s $15 more than last year, but it’s $167 more than before the pandemic in 2019.

If there was ever a time to shop smart, it’s now. Tried-and-true strategies can help, such as shopping sales and comparing prices.

For example, some major retailers currently have Crayola crayons marked down to 50 cents a box. But shopping for generic or store brands can save you even more. At Walmart, the store brand box of crayons was 25 cents.

The next strategy is to take stock of what you already have. That’s what Eilers did.

“I’m that mom. We went through last year’s supplies and said, ‘This notebook looks great. This one had only two pages used. We’ll reuse that,’” she said.

Money advisers also suggest you do the following:

  • Shop with a list, so you don’t get caught up in impulse buys.
  • Split bulk sales with friends or neighbors.
  • Ask about student discounts, especially with technology.
  • Buy only what you need now and wait on deeper discounts after school starts.
  • Shop for second-hand goods.
  • Shop during Texas’ tax-free weekend between Aug. 5 and Aug. 7. Most school supplies, clothing and shoes will be exempt from sales tax for that weekend.

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About the Authors:

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.