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Moms’ Guide: Where To Splurge and Save When Back-to-School Shopping

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Thanks to inflation, we’re in the midst of a particularly expensive back-to-school shopping season. A recent GOBankingRates survey found that in response to inflated costs, 30% of back-to-school shoppers will be switching to cheaper alternatives for some items this year. That’s a savvy technique — for some back-to-school items, there’s no point in opting for the more expensive option. However, there are some things worth splurging on.

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In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with money-saving expert (and mom) Andrea Woroch about where you should splurge and where to save when back-to-school shopping this year.

Back-to-School Items Worth Splurging On

“There’s a big misconception that saving money means buying the cheapest priced items. But on the contrary, shopping savvy and saving money sometimes means spending more and buying quality items that will last,” Woroch said. “The idea is you don’t buy as much, but splurge on quality items that will last so you don’t have to keep replacing them, which will save you more over time.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Using a cashback credit card can also help you make the most of these higher-priced purchases.

“One way to take the sting out of these splurges is to earn cash back on your purchases,” Woroch said. “Then, save that cash back to help pay for one of your bigger-ticket splurge items.”

Woroch recommends investing in quality, higher-priced options when it comes to these items.

Backpacks

“A cheaply made backpack will get beat up and could start falling apart halfway through the school year,” Woroch said. “In contrast, a high-quality backpack will last a few school years, so you get much more use out of it. Plus, they come with other nice features, like extra compartments, padded straps for more comfort and easy-to-clean material.”

To get the most out of your purchase, Woroch recommends sticking to a solid color or basic print that your child won’t grow out of.

“Stay away from trendy cartoon characters because they might not want to use it the next year,” she said.

Make Your Money Work for You

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Sneakers

“A good pair of sneakers is important since your children run and play all day,” Woroch said. “Just make sure they have room to grow into the sneaker so they last.”

Jackets

“Splurging on a quality jacket that will keep your child warm is crucial for staying healthy during cold weather months, and if you put more in, it will last all winter season,” Woroch said. “Better yet, size up and your son or daughter can wear it for a couple of school years. If you go with a gender-neutral color, you can also pass it down to your younger children.”

Back-to-School Items You Should Save On

For some items, opting for the cheaper or generic brand version is totally fine.

Basic School Supplies

“Save on basic school supplies like notebooks, pencils, binders and folders by sticking with store-brand options to save around 30% to 50%,” Woroch said. “Most big-box stores have their own brands, like Walmart’s Pen & Gear and Target’s Up & Up, for cheap. They also have more power to host more sales and offer bigger deals on their own brands, so you will see even bigger sales happening now up until school starts.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Tech Items

“School tech needs are where parents dish the most dollars, but you can save without sacrificing by opting for certified refurbished models,” Woroch said.

“This can save you around 40% to 60% compared to regular retailer prices. As long as you buy from a reputable retailer, like eBay, Amazon or Best Buy, you know you’re getting quality for less, as these companies inspect and repair all refurbished gadgets, certifying that they will work and look like new. Just make sure you review the warranty terms and return policy, and get a money-back guarantee.”

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GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.