“Families consider back-to-school and college items as an essential category.”
~ Matthew Shay, NFP President & CEO

Make no mistake about it: Happy about it or not, school bells are about to ring, and back-to-school shopping again uppermost on the minds of parents with school-aged kids.

And even with sales galore, it’s gonna cost us.

The National Retail Federation estimates that this year’s spending will match last year’s record high $37 billion, this in the face of the current 8.52% inflation rate, up from last summer’s 5.25% and January 2021’s 1.40%

According to a recent Morning Consult survey of 2,178 parents:

  • Just 36% said they can afford school shopping this year, down from 52% last year.
  • 37% are stressed about it, up from 32% last year.

Why so stressed? Well, a recent Deloitte poll of 1,200 parents found that…

  1. Since early May, 25% expected to pay more than $500 on school supplies, up from 11% last year.
  2. The average amount spent this year will be $661, up 8% from last summer’s school shopping season.

Oh yes, and while 80% of parents said they’d be buying face masks and hand sanitizer, 37% said they can’t afford to.

First step: Check around the house for already on-hand items before shopping for…

  • Notebook paper
  • Pencils and sharpener
  • Erasers
  • Pens
  • Highlighters
  • Scotch tape/glue
  • Construction paper
  • Poster board
  • Felt tip pens/markers
  • Crayons/colored pencils
  • Whiteout
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Index cards (white and multi-colored)
  • Printer paper
  • Printer ink cartridges

Next, do lots of comparison shopping and then, with your child in tow, hit the stores and spend cautiously. Prices will vary from store to store, as evidenced below when it comes to 3” 3-ring Avery notebooks:

  • Staples: $8.49
  • Staples: $6.99 (Economy Avery)
  • CVS:      $8.79
  • Target: $11.39
  • Walmart: $11.34
  • Amazon: $9.49

Then, as you shop, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Forego spiral notebooks; they are useless for storing handouts, etc. Stick instead with a 3-ring binder. A simple one–no expanding folders, zippers, bells and whistles of any kind.
  2. Next, pick up notebook dividers—lots of them, enough for each minor subject and four for every major subject, so there’s a place for everything…
    • Course Name
    • Notes
    • Returned Tests/Quizzes
    • Homework
  1. Add a thin, specially designed hole puncher that slips onto the binder’s three rings to ensure that papers end up in the right spot in the binder, not shoved in somewhere, mangled, and/or eventually lost.
  2. Also advisable: a pen/pencil case that fits on those three rings, too.
  3. Then add a 2-pocket folder. Assignments collected during the day go into the left-hand pocket to be transferred to the right-hand one upon completion. No more forgot-to-do or misplaced homework. Once graded and returned, they get filed into the appropriate homework tab in the binder.

And dare I suggest a truly old school assignment book, preferably a teacher’s lesson plan book with plenty of spaces for recording daily homework in every subject? Yes, I know, tech has made them obsolete and yet… As a parent, you may want/need to see each day’s assignments, signing off on completed assignments when asked to do so by teachers. Old school but very effective.

Once done and organized, your kid will be ready to crack the books and get down to work again, supplies well in hand.

With happy school days wishes, Carol