How much will parents spend on back-to-school purchases this year?

Back to school concept, mother or father and little girl buying school backpack or bag in store, selective focus.

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This back-to-school season, GOBankingRates wants to help parents, students, and teachers find the best deals on the products they need. From school supply lists with 50+ items to your child needing a new wardrobe, back-to-school shopping can quickly become expensive and out of budget.

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To help you prepare and avoid going over your shopping budget, GOBankingRates has collected data from the Consumer Spending Plans for Back to School from the National Retail Federation by 2022 to share how much parents should expect to spend. We’ll also shed light on how parents can cut their spending and what categories they can save in, as well as where they should.

Projected back-to-school spending for 2022

The anticipated spending for households in 2022 is higher than ever and the total expected spending on school supplies per household falls to $864, according to the NRF report.

Rising inflation is hurting back-to-school expenses this year. In the report, the NRF analyzed price increases by category versus growth in back-to-school spending. According to the report, there was a 2.2% increase in electronics prices, with parents likely to spend $293.05 on these items this year. Looking at clothing and accessories (excluding shoes), there was a 2.9% increase in prices for girls’ clothing and a 3.4% increase for boys’ clothing, with expected spending in this category which fell to $263.63. Be prepared to spend a little more on shoes this year as well, as boys’ and girls’ footwear saw a 9.9% price increase with anticipated shoe spend of $168.11.

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School supplies saw the most dramatic inflationary effects with a 21.8% price increase. Be sure to budget carefully for this category, as the anticipated spend in this area is higher than last year at $139.56.

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38% of Americans are covering the cost of back-to-school shopping by cutting back in other areas

Higher prices this school year mean more families and students are making changes to accommodate the back-to-school dent in their wallets.

According to the NRF report, 38% of shoppers are cutting back in other areas to cover the cost of back-to-school purchases this year. Additionally, 18% of shoppers are working overtime or taking extra hours, 17% are using buy now, pay later, and 14% are taking out additional credit cards. Finally, 12% of shoppers borrow money or go into debt to buy items they need for school.

How to save on back-to-school purchases

To avoid going into debt or overworking this fall, let’s take a look at some simple and effective ways to save on supplies.

Just splurge on long lasting items

While it’s definitely best to avoid buying the most expensive glue sticks and pencils, it’s worth spending money on the items that will last the longest and are most important to buy high-quality. When shopping for a new laptop, backpack, or graphing calculator, you should prioritize brands and styles that last. These items will get years of use and are well worth the higher price.

When budgeting for back-to-school supplies, be sure to take inventory of select items you want to splurge on and opt for cheaper store-brand items for all your other supplies.

Buy on sale

Before heading to the store to buy what you need, check online to determine what deals are available at different stores and shop around to get the lowest prices on the items you need. One of the worst back-to-school shopping mistakes you can make is doing all of your shopping in one trip to a store. While you may find some great deals, you’ll miss out on big savings by shopping around and finding the best deals.

Buy in bulk

If you need 10 notebooks and 20 binders this year, consider buying items in bulk. You can also find some other students or parents who need school supplies and make a big purchase so everyone can enjoy more savings.

Buy second-hand items

A great way to avoid going over budget or going into debt when buying school supplies is to buy second-hand items. Before you buy yourself or your child a complete wardrobe makeover at the mall, consider shopping at your local thrift store or online thrift sites. This is a great way to find great deals on gently used clothing, textbooks, and even calculators and electronics.

For college students in need of furniture for their new apartment or dorm, check Facebook Marketplace and local garage sales to find discount furniture items at a cheaper price.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack and writes about finance for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.