The Average Parent Expects to Spend $661 on Back-to-School Purchases. Will You?

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  • Certain back-to-school expenses are unavoidable.
  • Try shopping for supplies early before the rush begins.
  • If money is tight, use rewards cards and shop at warehouse clubs.

That amount can be overwhelming for a lot of shoppers.

There's a reason many parents dread the end of summer. Not only does it mean getting back into the grind of the school routine, complete with sports practices, PTO meetings, and a generally jam-packed schedule, but it also means having to spend a small fortune on essential supplies and apparel.

Last summer, the Child Tax Credit was boosted and paid to parents in monthly installments that hit checking accounts from July through December. As such, parents had access to extra cash during the back-to-school shopping season.

This year, however, the boosted credit is off the table at a time when inflation is driving living costs up. And so this season, many parents will no doubt struggle to cover the cost of everything from classroom supplies to apparel to sporting equipment.

In fact, parents plan to spend an average of $661 on back-to-school supplies this year, according to a survey by Deloitte. That represents an 8% uptick from what they spent last season.

If you're worried about covering those costs, you're no doubt in good company. But here are a few ways to make them more manageable.

1. Start early

The more time you give yourself to procure your back-to-school goods, the less likely you'll be to land in a situation where you're forced to overpay due to time constraints. If your children are set to return to school right after Labor Day, start shopping the second or third week of August for the things you need so you're not in a crunch.

2. Use the right credit cards and incentives programs

The simple act of swiping a credit card won't make your back-to-school purchases less expensive. But the right card might reward you with a generous amount of cash back that helps offset those costs.

It also pays to see if any of the stores you shop at frequently offer their own rewards program. Target, for example, has a RedCard program that comes with a huge discount on purchases. If that's a store you tend to frequent for back-to-school supplies, then it's worth signing up.

3. Check out your local warehouse club

Warehouse clubs like Costco may not seem like an obvious shopping destination for back-to-school supplies. But actually, those stores often stock seasonal items, so you may have some luck finding low-cost clothing, outerwear, and sports gear.

Plus, it pays to visit stores like Costco to load up on things like tissues and other classroom supplies the teachers at your kids' school might request. If you have a circle of five friends and you're each asked to supply your child's classroom with four tissue boxes, you can split the cost of a bulk pack of 20 and shave down your costs.

It's natural to bemoan the end of summer -- not just because of the more hectic school routine, but because of the costs of kicking off a new academic year. If you're worried about paying for back-to-school supplies, use these tips to shop strategically and eke out as much savings as possible.

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