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Back to school supplies

Back to School Tips

Already the store isles are loaded with back-to-school supplies, backpacks, and lunch boxes. As summer nears an end, parents are starting to stock up on back-to-school items in hopes of avoiding the mad rush. In fact, according to a National Retail Federation report, back-to-school expenses is the second busiest retail season of the year, noting that back-to-school expenses will hit a record high for the 2021-22 school year, averaging $789.49 per child. That’s up from the average of $696.70 last year. Industry experts say that part of the reason prices increased is that when COVID-19 shut down the country, the supply chain was also put on hold and retailers are trying to get back to normal. Retailers are having to pay air freight versus shipping cargo in order to get goods to their destinations on time. If these numbers give you anxiety, here are a few tips to help you get what your child needs without the financial strain:

  • Take inventory at home first — More often than not, you have many of the school supplies your kids need at home already. See if you have highlighters, pens, pencils, notebooks, and other school supplies saved up from prior years before buying more of the same. The savings may seem small, but it will add up and every little bit helps.
  • Take advantage of the Back to School tax-free dates – July 31st to August 9th. For a list of items that qualify for the tax-free Back to School supplies, log on to the Florida Dept. of Revenue at Florida Dept. of Revenue – Home (floridarevenue.com).
  • Seek out weekly deals that highlight a small handful of products each week, sometimes as low as 25 cents.
  • Don’t use those store credit cards If you are offered one while checking out, politely decline. Sure, those sign-up bonuses can be great, but if you carry a balance on one of these cards, the interest you pay with those high APRs (averaging 24.24% APR) will easily exceed what you saved with that initial discount the store offered you.
  • Set up a swap system with other families for trading kids’ clothing, shoes, and accessories. Gather your friends and neighbors with kids around the same age and everyone brings gently used clothing, books, school supplies, toys, etc., and receives a ticket for each item they bring. Each ticket entitles you to one item from the swap meet. If you contribute six books, you can leave with up to six new-to-you books. If you contribute seven items of clothing, you can leave with up to seven new-to-you items of clothing. All leftover items are donated.
  • Consider shopping second-hand through places like Offerup.com.
  • Prioritize quality over price when purchasing clothes for the family. An inexpensive shirt or coat is a poor bargain for older family members if it wears out in less than a year, but could make sense for quickly growing children.
  • Obtain a free money management calendar to help you track your expenses or sign up to take a money management class by reaching out to jennyarodriguez@ufl.edu.
  • Last but not least, with this new school year, be sure and stay focused, stay positive, and stay informed!
  • For more tips check out some of these other sites:

Home, Energy and Money – UF/IFAS Extension (ufl.edu)
Ask IFAS: Money Matters (ufl.edu)
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