Summer is winding down, which means it's back-to-school time for many families. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. households are expected to spend an average of $890 per household this year for back-to-school items—an all time high. It's probably not surprising to hear that in a 10-year period, these expenses have increased about 40%.
The expected average back-to-school costs for students in college is $1,367 this year, up from $1,199 last year. These expenses have increased on average about 63% over a 10-year period. One reason for the expected increase in expenses is because big-ticket items like laptops, tablets, and graphing calculators are needed for school.
Tips for Saving Money
Reuse supplies, if possible
Buy Refurbished Electronics
Buy Supplies in Bulk and Split the Cost with Friends
Look for sales and generic products
Save up for big purchases
There are several items that you may be able to reuse from the last school year to save money and reduce waste, like some folders, binders, scissors, rulers, headphones, and electronics, among other things. Make a list of what you need and only get what's on your list. Have your child save up their own money if there's something special they'd like that isn't on the list.
Look at buying refurbished electronics, but do your homework before adding to cart. You may be able to save some money, but the key is ensuring that what you're buying isn't just cleaned up and resold but actually refurbished, meaning it's inspected and repaired before being sold. Look for a company that's certified as a refurbished retailer, or go directly to the manufacturer to buy refurbished products. Make sure to ask questions about any parts they use to repair the device and whether there are any warranties on the item.
You might be able to get some items in bulk for a cheaper price per piece than buying them individually. Ask other families in your child's class since they'll need the same supplies so all of you can reduce your spending and save.
There are lots of back-to-school sales, so do your research to see where you'll get the best deal. While you do the research, compare the prices of name-brand products compared to generic (off-brand).
If you don't need an item right away, like an expensive electronic, consider setting aside money in a savings account to buy at a different time. WaFd Bank offers savings accounts for children and teens with no monthly service fee and only an initial $10 deposit required (if under 18).
Help Your Kids Understand Money Management
As your child starts the new school year, now is the perfect time to teach your kids how to safely manage their money and understand wants versus needs when it comes to spending. If you have a checking account with WaFd Bank*, you and your child can get access to the Greenlight app. Your child will get a debit card that you can turn off if needed. You can also set spending limits, send allowance or other money to your child's account, assign chores, and set spending and saving goals. It even comes with Level Up, a game they can play in the app that teaches them valuable money management skills.
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