With summer coming to an end, parents are preparing for the upcoming school year. The arrival of a new school year also comes with the dreaded back to school shopping. Without proper planning, back to school shopping can be extremely harmful to your budget.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has been conducting back to school surveys since 2003 to see how much Americans are spending on school supplies. According to their recent survey, families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average of $696.70 in 2019, up from $684.79 in 2018, and the highest recorded number ever from NRF. Those with children attending college expect to spend an average of $976.78, up from $942.17 – also a record high. The total combined spending for back to school shopping is expected to reach $80.7 billion! Here are some tips on how to stay within a reasonable budget with back to school shopping:

  1. SET A BUDGET – If consumers have properly budgeted their savings, they will be more prepared to purchase the items their child needs without breaking their budget.
  2. TAKE INVENTORY – Consumers should look around the house and see what supplies they already have before going out to the store and buying everything on their child’s list. Consumers should also review their child’s list and see what needs to be purchased so they can find the best deals.
  3. CHECK CONSIGNMENT SHOPS – Consignment shops are great places to find used clothing for the new year because everything they offer has already been vetted. This can also be a useful place to save money for younger children who are still growing.
  4. FOLLOW STORES ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND E-BLASTS – Many companies send their followers coupons, links and notices of deals. If consumers want to save money, they should pay close attention to their favorite brands’ social accounts and sign up for e-blasts.
  5. TRY NOT TO OVERSTOCK – It can be tempting to buy tons of notebooks, pencils, pens, etc. when the prices are so low. It’s not uncommon to find notebooks for as low as $0.05 each. The only problem is that your kids will only use so many supplies throughout the year. Buy what you think your kids will need. Supplies will always be on sale again next year. Overbuying is where you are going to waste your money on back to school supplies. As tempted as you are to buy extra items, remember that you are trying to save money not to waste your money.
  6. FOCUS SAVING ON BIG-TICKET ITEMS – It’s more ideal to save money on a bigger priced item than something small. Don’t spend too much time comparing the prices of glue to save $0.15. Rather, focus on the price of electronics, like a laptop for your high schoolers, as consumers may be able to save as much as $300.
  7. SET ASIDE MONEY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR – This is a great tip and one that many parents don’t practice at all! Your kids will always need supplies throughout the year. There will be projects and other assignments that require special supplies. It’s best to put money aside for these supplies so that you’re not scrambling to come up with the money. Try to set aside at least $100 for the rest of the year. If you don’t use the money, you’ll always have it for next year’s supplies.


Back to school shopping can be difficult and expensive. Be careful about what you buy before school starts and make sure to save money for the rest of the year. This will make back to school shopping a lot less stressful. If you need help with your finances or budgeting WE CAN HELP – call Center For Siouxland at 712-252-1861 ext. 47.