Get ready to sharpen those pencils! August has arrived – and with it comes back-to-school shopping, one of the most daunting tasks of the year.
Students may be ready to hit the books again, but with inflation continuing to rise and the cost of school supplies expected to increase, parents (and college students) may be focused a bit more on one specific kind of book this year: the checkbook.
According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $864 on school items, approximately $15 more than last year.
But, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to drain your checking account. And if you’re a business owner, this time of year may just be the best time to restock that supply cabinet with office essentials, too.
In a season that’s chaotic enough without the extra expenses, our money-saving gurus at Florida Capital Bank (FLCBank) compiled a list of tips to help you get your kids (or your business) ready for fall without breaking the bank:
Do an inventory check
Before you hit the sales, look at the basic things on the school supply lists, such as pens, pencils, notebooks, etc., and take inventory of what you already have at home. You may be surprised to find a few stacks of notebook paper, a few binders that weathered well throughout the last school year, or even some unused pens or pencils stuffed in a closet or junk drawer.
Set ground rules
Kids tend to want name-brand clothing or trendy binders and pencils. Try setting some ground rules on what you are willing to buy and how much you are willing to pay. You can take it a step further and even make them work for something that is over a certain amount. More often than not, kids find themselves less willing (and therefore, less likely) to spend their own hard-earned money on frivolous items.
Shop during tax-free holiday
The Florida Back–to-School Sales Tax Holiday ends this Sunday, August 7 – but while it’s here, certain clothing, learning aids, personal computers and more are exempt from sales tax. Business owners can also cash in on the sale to update their inventory of office basics like staplers, printer ink cartridges, word processing and financial software, and more.
In addition, the sale of children’s books — regardless of sales price — is exempt until August 14.
Interested in learning what items qualify for a sales tax exemption? Check out the Florida Department of Revenue handout here.
Compare prices before you buy
No matter where you’re shopping, comparing prices ensures you’re not only saving money – but getting the best deal for budget and needs. Most big-box stores will price-match their competitors, which helps to save time, as well. Run a quick Google search before purchasing to see if any other stores or websites offer the product for a better price.
Hold out for the sales
If you already have the basics for your kids’ school supplies, try holding out until the end of the summer. Nothing beats those sales better than the clearance rack. Your kids can also still get those trendy supplies at a price that won’t cause sticker shock.
But if inflation has really taken a toll on your family finances this year, know you’re not alone. A recent study found that 75 percent of families surveyed were somewhat stressed about paying for back-to-school supplies.
Know there’s always help, if needed
Here in Jacksonville, there are so many amazing organizations stepping up to help children and families access the supplies they need – not only to get back to school, but with basic living expenses, as well.
FLCBank is proud to collect school supplies for Raines High School and United Way, as part of our corporate commitment to giving back to our community.
From our products and services, to providing helping hands and financial literacy, our team members believe that it takes all of us to see our communities thrive.