Kansas kids begin heading back to school next week. That means a lot of changes for both them and you, their parents. It also means a big price tag.
The National Retail Federation expects parents to spend an average of $670 dollars per student this year, that's up 5% from last year.
Of that, the biggest cost is clothes, costing an average of $231, followed by shoes at about $125. The cost of school supplies themselves is up 12% over last year to an average $101.
"It adds up really quickly. Especially over the last few years. I feel like with the budget cuts with the school there are things that keep getting added on to our school supply list that are necessary for the classroom but they cost the parents a little bit more money," said Christiane Doom, a Wichita mother of four. "It should not cost a fortune to raise a kid. And sadly sometimes it feels like it does."
So how can you keep your money in your pocketbook? It takes some organization and planning ahead but it doesn't have to become a full-time job.
Doom and Michelle Koziarz are both experienced at cutting costs when shopping for school, between Doom's four kids and Koziarz's two. Each woman has her own method of cutting that price tag down.
"Really just hunting down the best savings, 'cause some of them can get expensive," said Koziarz. She's an avid comparison shopper and looks for those coupons, in the Sunday paper and online, and often buys supplies at pennies on the dollar. "Take the time to look through the ads. Don't just go to one store. If you have a favorite store, see if they price match."
"First thing, I think, that's really important is you have to get organized," said Doom. She suggests starting your shopping at home. "You'd be surprised what you have at home, in your home office, that's on the school supply list... old binders and notebooks that you can re-purpose with photographs or have your kids do their artwork."
Another trick? Start shopping early.
"If you can spread your purchases out, that helps a lot," said Doom. And keep spreading the purchases out across the school year. Take those items that are really for the entire classroom, buy the tissues now, the Clorox wipes in November, and those reams of paper in March. They'll still be needed then.
There's also cost sharing.
"You could get with a friend and go to Sam's or something and buy in in bulk and split that cost," suggests Doom.
Finally, she recommends shopping second hand for things like backpacks, shoes and clothes. Something she believes in so strongly she ended up opening her own consignment shop.
"It shouldn't cost a fortune to dress your children," said Doom.