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How to maintain budget when Back-to-School spending to hit record high

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 11:46 AM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

Parents, you probably don't want to hear this one. According to a new study, you may be spending more on school supplies than ever before. Whether the pandemic has you fearful or not about sending your child back to school, many families have already started gearing up on electronic and furniture spending.

The National Retail Federation says that parents with children in elementary school through high school plan on spending an average of $789.49 per family. They say that's more than the previous record of $696.70 families said they would spend last year.

The NRF says these are the top items consumers plan on buying because of e-learning: number one is laptops, number two speakers and headphones, three electronic accessories, workbooks and then desk or chair. Many families say they don't want their children doing distance learning from their bed.

An NDSU associate professor says it’s important for families to sit down and set a realistic budget.

"Make a list while analyzing each item to determine if it is a need or a want," said Carrie Johnson, NDSU Associate Professor in Health Development and Family Science. "Does that fall within this realistic budget, do you have the money? And also, making that list of wants and needs and going through every item and saying do we really need this?"

Johnson says with so many unknowns it is probably extremely difficult for families to set their back-to-school budgets at this time. The need to purchase a computer may depend on the grade-level of their children and the school district. For example, Fargo Public School District is a one-to-one school district – middle and high school students will be provided laptops. However, younger elementary students will be given iPads.

She says internet providers had also offered assistance to low-income families last spring. If virtual learning continues, will they continue to do so? This is a cost that some families need to put in their back-to-school budget if they currently do not have the Internet at home.

Johnson says this is also the time of year when school supply prices are at their lowest, so many families may want to think about purchasing enough to replace items throughout the year.

“I always say personal finance is more about the personal than the finance piece sometimes too, so really looking at your family’s situation,” said Johnson. “That’s going to be your first and most important step.”

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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