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Back-to-school shopping: Big spending means tradeoffs

What happened:

It’s time to get back to school! Shopping for clothing and supplies is an exciting tradition for many households. 2022 should be extra exciting, as returning to the classroom will feel the most “normal” it has been in three years. Spending on back to school will reflect this sentiment. Of course, we’re all a lot more conscious about our budgets and spending habits with prices on the rise. But according to an Ally survey, parents don’t want to cut back on kids ready to take on the classroom and spend time with new friends. Parents expect to pay more on back-to-school shopping than last year, with families spending an average of $864.

Why it matters:

To meet those expectations and school needs, one-third of consumers plan to reduce spending in other areas. Trade-offs can be tough, but they’re prepared to do it responsibly, without dipping into savings or going into debt. For example, many parents are planning to spend less at restaurants and some are rethinking or postponing family vacations to offset this year’s higher back-to-school costs.

What it means for you:

Back to school is still a reason to celebrate, so don’t let higher prices get you down! When it comes to budgeting, it’s always valuable to separate wants from needs. Over the last two years, many school-related purchases were technology-focused, as opposed to trendy sneakers and new clothes. You don’t need to replace every item in your kid’s wardrobe – take them thrifting or let them discover the retro appeal of reusing an older sibling’s “vintage” backpack.

And don’t forget some of the simple wins – look for student discounts and keep an eye out for back-to-school tax holidays in your area. If you’re in a position to do so, consider supporting teachers by gifting supplies or making donations to programs that provide essentials to students facing economic hardship. Let’s make it a great year!

Purple background with coins falling. Text overlay: Spare change.

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Illustration of school supplies (backpack, books, notebook and ruler) with text: Go Figure: On average, U.S. families will spend $864 on back-to-school supplies this year. Source: National Retail Federation.

Lindsey Bell is an award-winning investment professional with a passion for personal finance and more than 17 years of Wall Street experience. Bell’s unique ability to connect the dots between data and real life and craft bite-sized money ideas that people can use and apply stems from her deep background as an analyst, researcher and portfolio manager at organizations including J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. She is known for demonstrating why and how an understanding of all things money improves a person’s finances and overall well-being. An ongoing CNBC contributor, Bell empowers consumers and investors across all walks of life and frequently shares her insights with the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and Business Insider. She also serves on the board of Better Investing, a non-profit focused on investment education.

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