The average American family will spend $864 on back-to-school basics, survey shows

A father walks hand in hand with his little daughter wearing a backpack.

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Here are some tips for saving money on these basic expenses.


the main points

  • School is back in session, and many families are heading to the store to stock up on necessities.
  • The average family will spend $864 on back-to-school supplies from kindergarten through school.
  • To save money, follow tips like buying used and refurbished items and relying on community resources.

For many families, back-to-school season has arrived. This means it’s time to go shopping for school necessities. Many schools require parents to purchase supplies for the beginning of the year. But back-to-school essentials come at a cost — and they may be more expensive than you think.

If you’re not careful, the cost of school supplies can add up quickly. For many families, it is a good idea to go into the shopping experience with a shopping list and budget. If you don’t go into a plan, you may overspend and negatively affect the Bank account Balance.

Families will spend $864 on K-12 school essentials

The National Retail Federation reports that this year’s total back-to-school spending is expected to match the 2021 record of $37 billion. In 2020, spending totaled $34 billion, while in 2019 it was much lower, at $26 billion.

Families with primary children through the high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school necessities — more than the 2021 projected spending of $849. That’s a lot of money to spend before the school year starts. How does your back-to-school spending compare?

If your budget is limited, you are not alone. These tips can help you save while shopping.

  1. Consider buying used clothing. Consignment stores are an excellent place to get a good deal of used clothing. Another option is to buy gently used clothes from other families at the yard sale or online. This is a perfect solution if you expect your kids to outgrow their clothes this year due to the growth spurt. New clothes are not the only option.
  2. Review sales flyers before shopping. Sales flyers are your friend. Compare prices from different retailers and go to places where must-haves are discounted. Doing so can make it easier to stick to your budget.
  3. Shop at discount stores. Don’t assume that an office supply store or one-stop retailer is the best place to go. You may be able to spend less money by getting some essentials from discount stores, such as Aldi or Dollar Tree.
  4. Some purchases are delayed. You may be able to get away with waiting to buy some essentials. If you are provided with a supply list, ask your child’s teacher if all items need to be brought in during the first week. If not, you may be able to spread out some of the costs by getting a few things done in the following weeks.
  5. Buy refurbished electronics. If you need to buy electronics for your kids, compare prices electronics refurbishment for new electronics. You can save a lot of money, and your child will likely not know the difference.
  6. Don’t ignore community resources. If you’re going through a tough time financially, don’t try to do it all on your own. Check to see what community resources are available. Many organizations collect backpacks and other school supplies during the summer to help families start the school year successfully.

We’re all looking for ways to cut back on spending while we fight record-breaking inflation. Are you looking for other ways to save money? our personal financing Resources offer additional tips.

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