How Much Families Spend On Back-To-School

back and forth foreverAh, September! Suddenly the social media pictures of all of you posing in bikinis or on cobblestoned Paris streets have been displaced in favor of pictures of your kids holding up signs saying what grade they’re about to start or of your selfies of you with a backpack. This is a Big Shift. How much do you plan to spend on it?

A website called Happify.com, which focuses on the science of happiness, sent me some cute infographics about how Americans in general do money when it comes to Back 2 School. Here are some of the highlights.happify B2S screenshot 1

happify b2s screenshot 2

So a majority of parents worry about the cost of back-to-school shopping, more than worry about their kids getting out of bed on time or having good teachers. No surprise when they have to have about $650 ready to spend on materials and clothes.

The site offers some advice for getting the better of these worries.

happify B2S screenshot 3

There have to be more ideas out there for cutting back on these expenses. Parenting magazine advises avoiding what’s trendy in favor of what’s on sale (sure, though your kids will hate you), try Craigslist (ditto), repurpose office supplies you already have at home (worth trying!) and, most intriguingly,

Buy bright. Lost school supplies may be a given, but gear that’s hard to miss can stave off the inevitable. Pack all their pencils, erasers, and other goodies into a bright backpack or pencil pouch to keep them from disappearing.

I love this idea! Has anyone crash-tested it? If you get things in neon colors, are you less likely to misplace them?

RealSimple.com recommends shopping on tax-free days and following your kids’ favorite stores on social media to get coupons and deals. You can also browse, and buy at a discount, other people’s rejected gift cards to various stories.

Other ideas that seem worth considering:

+ See what you can get for free. Keep in mind though that some people really need the free stuff; if you can afford to pay at least secondhand prices, you probably should.

+ Opt for backpacks and coats that have lifetime warranties, so that they can be replaced for free if necessary.

+ And, of course, before you spend a dime, explain to your kid — or, let’s be real, yourself — the difference between “want” and “need.” Mastering that will save you money your whole life through.

What works, or has worked, for you?

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