“The second busiest retail season of the year, next to holiday shopping.” That’s what one National Retail Federation report had to say, noting that back-to-school expenses would hit a record high for the 2021-2022 school year, averaging $789.49 per child. That’s up from the average of $696.70 last year.
If that number gives you heartburn, here are a few tips to help get what your kids need without the financial stress.
- Take inventory at home, first: More often than not you have many of the school supplies your kids need at home already. See if you have highlighters, pens, pencils, notebooks, and other school supplies saved up from prior years before buying more of the same. The savings may seem small, but it will add up and every little bit helps.
- Take advantage of the “loss leaders”: Wait, what? “Loss leaders” are items that stores advertise at low prices (or even at a loss) to lure you into their stores hoping you’ll buy more. Big box stores like Walmart and Target usually offer deep discounts on school supplies starting after July 4th and these discounts last through September. Be on the lookout for weekly deals at stores like Staples, Office Depot, and even Walgreens or CVS where they will highlight a small handful of products each week, sometimes as low as 25 cents.
- Don’t use those store credit cards: If you are offered one while checking out, politely decline. Sure, those sign-up bonuses can be great but if you carry a balance on one of these cards, the interest you pay with those high APRs (averaging 24.24% APR) will easily exceed what you saved with that initial discount the store offered you.
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