'According to the National Retail Federation, families will spend $594.24 on back to school purchases, compared to $563.49 last year.
"Families can expect to see rising costs on everything from uniforms and school clothes to supplies for their child and the classroom," said Jessica Cecere, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. "Advanced planning, careful shopping and a little research can go a long way in helping you stay within your budget."
- Make a budget and stick to it: Decide how much you will spend on school supplies ahead of time and, if possible, set aside the cash to avoid overspending. Use school shopping as an opportunity to teach your child about making choices by giving them a set spending amount to purchase some of the items they will need. They will learn that if they want the special folders, they may need to forego the fancy markers.
- Take inventory: Begin with a list of all back-to-school needs and expenses including supplies, equipment, clothing, and fees for sports, music and science labs. Next, check around the house for what your family already owns. Look for and reuse calculators, rulers, pencil sharpeners and anything else that is still in working condition. Last year's backpack may be just what is needed to start the new school year. In fact, wait just a few weeks after school starts and many backpacks and other accessories will be on sale for a fraction of the original price. Most students will not need entirely new wardrobes-just fill in the gaps with a few new outfits or uniform pieces. Well-maintained musical instruments and sports equipment are considerably less expensive than new ones.
- Plan your shopping: With gas prices at record levels, it may not pay to go to several stores to save a few cents on school supplies. Check the newspaper and online ads and map out your shopping plan to maximize you savings and stay within your budget.
- Shop at school: Many schools offer pre-packaged school supplies for students. Often coordinated by the PTA as a fundraiser, families can purchase supply packs from the school at costs comparable to what you would pay at a retailer. You will save time and gas by not having to shop, and your child's supplies will be waiting for them on the first day of school.
- Shop online and at discount retailers: Several national office supply stores are offering good online prices for school supplies. Look for free or inexpensive delivery. Outlet stores, big box stores and discount chains can save you money on uniforms and other school supplies. Check out your neighborhood consignment shops and thrift stores too. Some have designated space for school uniforms and you may get some great bargains."
Source: Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS)