Back to School Without Breaking the Bank

County's Consumer Expert Provides Tips to Stretch Your Dollar

You’ve got a long list of required supplies from the teacher, a tattered backpack that needs replacing and your child’s pleas for some new, fashionable clothes. But, like for many American families, times are tight.

So what do you do? There’s a lot of ways you can ease the burden – by smart shopping and spreading out your expenses, says Patti Wooten Swanson, a nutrition, family and consumer science advisor with the County’s Farm & Home Advisor Office.

 “Let your kids know that this a different budget year and that spending will be a little more restrained,” Wooten Swanson says.

“Make your kids part of the process; talk about wants vs. needs and what you’re going to buy for school,” Wooten Swanson says. According to the National Retail Federation, families will spend an average of $548 on back to school clothing, supplies and electronics this year. But that doesn’t mean you have to.

Wooten Swanson says parents should consider these cost-saving strategies:

  • Decide in advance how much you want to spend, and stick to it!
  • Use cash, not a credit card, to pay for purchases. People spend more with credit cards, and end up paying more with interest.
  • Make a list and then prioritize. Can some items wait a month or two?
  • Comparison shop through ads or online before you go to the store.
  • Know the school’s dress code before you buy.