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Strategies to Keep Back-to-School Spending in Check

July 21, 2022
Jaime Ochs
Jaime Ochs

Back-to-school is an exciting time of year, but with the impact of inflation, dollars may not go as far this year for supplies and necessities. A recent survey found that two-thirds of parents are very concerned about how inflation will impact school shopping and more than 41 percent say they plan to spend more on supplies this year.1

To ensure back-to-school shopping doesn’t take too big of a bite out of your budget, check out these ABCs of back-to-school spending and some suggestions on ways to get your children involved in the process.

Back to school


Audit your current inventory

There’s no need to buy new supplies when you can recycle or repurpose. Pull out your kid’s backpack and search the house for items that are on the supply list. You may be surprised to find hardly used notebooks, fully sharpened pencils and untouched folders.

Get your children involved –Give used supplies a face-lift with a fun art project. Allow your kids to personalize their supplies with markers, paint, washi tape or other craft material you have on hand. Explain to kids that repurposing and recycling a portion of the necessary supplies frees up money in the budget to spend on other things they may need or want.


Build a back-to-school budget – Determine how much you plan to spend on back-to-school items. Then, allocate your total to different back-to-school categories including supplies, technology and clothing. Also, check to see if your state offers a sales tax holiday. Many states offer a day or weekend in which they waive state sales tax on school items, meaning you can save up to 10% depending on where you live.

Get your children involved –  This is a great opportunity to teach needs versus wants. Ask you children to prioritize the items on their list. Perhaps a new device will help maximize their learning. If so, explain in order to get the device, they may have to forego the latest trend or name brand clothing for items that don’t break the bank.


Compare prices- While getting all of your supplies at one mega-store or online retailer may cut down on the time it takes to check off every item on your list, it may also cut into your budget. Consider comparing prices on higher dollar items, and be certain to search for coupons no matter where you shop. Make the most of your back-to-school purchases by using a rewards credit card like Hancock Whitney’s Visa® Points Plus Credit Card which offers 1% cash back on most purchases. You can redeem your points for cash back, travel, gift cards and more. 

Get your children involved – Hand over the weekly sales papers to your kids and challenge them to find the best deals on the supplies on their lists. For older kids, this is an opportunity to practice some math skills by challenging them to apply additional coupon discounts to the sale price.  


For more money management tips, check out Hancock Whitney Financial Cents, a free, online learning platform that covers an array of financial topics.


1 " Back-to-School Spending Habits Shift Amid Inflation and Shortages," civicscience.com, June 24, 2022, https://civicscience.com/back-to-school-spending-habits-shift-amid-inflation-and-shortages/