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• Aug 14, 2023

Nothing signals that the lazy days of summer are coming to end more than receiving a list of school supplies to purchase. As your eyes skim through the list of folders, crayons, and binders of different sizes, all you see is your wallet spilling its contents into the shopping cart.

Experts are expecting a robust back-to-school spending season. The National Retail Federation's annual survey estimates that it will reach $41.5 billion, up from $36.9 billion last year and surpassing the previous high of $37.1 billion in 2021. A recent survey of parents by Morning Consult found that 57% say they plan to spend more than $250 on back-to-school shopping this year.

Read below for some tips on how to save money for back to school.

Make a List and Check it Twice

Before going back-to-school shopping, take the time to construct your own list. Take your time with this process, as you may need to take inventory to see what previous supplies can be re-used for the school year.

Cross-reference the school list with the needs of your child in determining if there is anything in addition to those supplies your child might need.

While there are ways to save during the summer months, categorize your list by what needs to be immediately purchased and what can wait. Many suppliers sell discounted school supplies in September after the school year has started. Older children in middle and high school who do not receive a list may want to first hear directly from their teacher about what they need, rather than stockpiling on generic materials that they may never use. Once in the store, stick to your list and to the items that you have flagged as a necessary timely purchase.

Get Your Child Involved

Provide your child with a unique budgeting experience by creating the list with them and talking through the budget. While it may take more time, work alongside your child before and during the shop to obtain the items they need within their budget.

From this experience, children will learn the value in pre-planning and thinking through purchases, rather than pulling the most visually appealing, but expensive, items from the shelf.

Buy in Bulk

Buying items in bulk may also save you money in the long run. Retailers such as Walmart , Amazon, and Costco sell "bulk packs" in which customers can purchase large packs of materials including pens, notebooks, and folders at a discounted price. Buying in bulk could prevent the annual hefty school supply bill as you can stock up supplies for future years. Or you could buddy up with parents in your community and split the cost and pack of supplies to give the children in your neighborhood an unlimited supply of pencils.

Invest in High-Use Items

When purchasing supplies, consider which materials will be tossed or saved at the end of the year. Materials such as notebooks will most likely be cast aside at the end of the year, meaning this is not the area to invest. Buy generic brands of these kinds of items. On the flip side, identify which materials could be re-used. This may include backpacks, lunchboxes, binders, etc. When buying these items, consider purchasing one that your child will not "age out of" or grow bored of. A backpack, especially, is an item that your child could keep for years if in good condition. When labeling your child's items, avoid writing on the item directly and opt for a label that could be easily covered year to year.

Coupons and Price Comparisons

In the same way that you may actively budget for groceries, you can have a similar approach with school supplies. Mobile apps such as ShopSavvy and Price.com compare the costs of an item across different store-fronts, and alerts you to current deals at various retailers.

Keep an Eye Out for Deals

Back to School sales differ year to year, so make sure to check it out before heading out the door to shop! Families are planning to save on back-to-school shopping by taking advantage of regional tax-free weekends (36%) and Labor Day sales (29%), according to the Morning Consult survey.

This may include backpacks, lunchboxes, binders, etc. When buying these items, consider purchasing one that your child will not "age out of" or grow bored of. A backpack, especially, is an item that your child could keep for years if in good condition. When labeling your child's items, avoid writing on the item directly and opt for a label that could be easily covered year to year.

Coupons and Price Comparisons

In the same way that you may actively budget for groceries, you can have a similar approach with school supplies. Mobile apps such as ShopSavvy and Price.com compare the costs of an item across different store-fronts, and alerts you to current deals at various retailers.

Keep an Eye Out for Deals

Back to School sales differ year to year, so make sure to check it out before heading out the door to shop! Families are planning to save on back-to-school shopping by taking advantage of regional tax-free weekends (36%) and Labor Day sales (29%), according to the Morning Consult survey.

In July, Target kick-started their Back to School Event with a wide array of discounted offerings. Members of Target Circle may be notified of additional discounts as they emerge, and Target has announced that customers will not be charged sales tax during Sales Tax Holiday Weekends. Additionally, if you are a parent who is also an educator, make sure to claim the Educator's 20% off on one qualifying storewide purchase from July 16th through August 26th.

As of late, Amazon's "Featured Deals" have displayed ongoing deals ranging from 30-70% off. While you're at it, make sure to also check out Amazon's "Shop by Grade" feature that categorizes items by what students may typically need at that grade level. Morning Consult found that 42% of parents who shopped the Amazon Prime Day sale were able to snag back-to-school discounts early.

Staples has a similar feature to Amazon, and also displays current deals on their School Supplies web-page. Overall, the above are only few of the many opportunities to save. Continue to keep an eye out, and happy Back to School!

For more on personal finance topics

If you have more questions about other personal finance topics that matter to you, visit the Learning Center on TD Bank’s website. You can find out more information about TD Bank's services at td.com

We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in August 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided as a convenience and for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank or third-party product or service is available or right for you.

For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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