Only 36% of Parents Say They Can Afford Back-to-School Shopping. Here Are Some Ways to Save

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  • Many families are struggling to afford their back-to-school haul.
  • Shopping strategically, using the right credit cards, and not being shy about asking for help could all result in savings.

It's a tough time to be making a series of big purchases -- but all isn't lost.

In some parts of the country, summer camp is still very much in full swing. But in other areas, parents are already gearing up to send their children back to school. And that means loading up on everything from teacher-mandated supplies to apparel to sports equipment.

But this year, parents might struggle more so than usual to stock up on back-to-school supplies. That's because inflation has made just about everything more expensive, and families whose paychecks aren't going as far may be feeling the squeeze.

In a recent Morning Consult report, only 36% of parents say that they can afford their kids' back-to-school supplies, compared to 52% who said so in 2021. Last year, parents had access to extra money thanks to the monthly installment payments the boosted Child Tax Credit provided. But this year, the boosted credit is gone, leaving many families to struggle.

If you're worried about swinging the cost of back-to-school supplies, you're far from alone. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to lower your costs and eke out some savings.

1. Shop strategically

You may have to visit a few different stores to get specific items at the best price point. Do some research to see where the items you need are offered for the lowest prices, and then map out a shopping route that lets you stock up efficiently.

2. Use credit cards with extra cash back

Certain back-to-school expenses are unavoidable. But you can make them less expensive by virtue of swiping a credit card at the store that offers extra cash back on your purchases. It's also worth noting that if you do a lot of your back-to-school shopping at Target, you can sign up for the store's RedCard and save 5% on your purchases. That's a discount worth pursuing if you have lots of items to buy.

3. Ask for hand-me-downs

If you have school-aged kids, then chances are, you have friends in the area with older kids who may be able to pass gently used clothing or sports equipment down to you. If your child will be playing soccer in the fall for just three months, for example, there's no sense in spending $30 you don't have on a new pair of cleats if someone can give you a used but functional pair for free.

In fact, one thing you may want to try that could benefit parents in your neighborhood is suggesting a town-wide gear and clothing swap. You can post a note on your town social media page to have parents meet at a public location -- say, a library or schoolyard -- and bring items they're no longer using so they can go to people who need them.

Many parents are excited for their kids to go back to school -- but they aren't excited about the costs involved. If you're worried about affording back-to-school supplies, use these tips to ease that burden. At a time when everything is so expensive, even a small amount of savings can go a long way.

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