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With inflation at levels not seen in decades, parents are already anticipating that shopping for back-to-school supplies will cost more in 2023 than in previous years.

  • $848.90 – The average amount U.S. households expected to spend on back-to-school items.
  • $37.1 billion – For elementary through high school students, total back-to-school spending.
  • The biggest spends were on electronics, clothing, and shoes respectively.
  • $71 billion – Total spending for back-to-college in the U.S.

How to track spending

Before you buy, make a list of everything you need, from uniforms to backpacks to athletic equipment and band instrument rentals.

  1. Create a budget, or spending limit, for what you need (add in a little extra to give yourself some wiggle room).
  2. Sign up for a budgeting app or use a free online spreadsheet or a paper ledger to track expenses.
  3. When you make a purchase, save the receipt, and note the total in your app, spreadsheet or paper.

Compare prices

Shopping sales is a great way to save money. Before going out to a store or hitting ‘buy now’ on internet purchases, compare prices for a few minutes online. Here are some easy ways to compare prices:

  1. Use a tool such as Google Shopping to see the different prices stores sell the same item.
  2. Check out price-saving sites such as
  3. Sign up for free online browser extensions such as honey, ibotta,, or

More money-saving tips for back-to-school shopping

  1. Take an inventory of what you already have that can last another season.
  2. Wait for the sales. Typically, the later you buy, the better the bargains.
  3. You don’t have to buy every item on your list before school starts.
  4. Take advantage of sales tax holidays.
  5. Consider buying reconditioned items, such as laptops, if they include warranties.
  6. Check thrift stores and online marketplaces for gently used items.