5 Resources To Help Parents Afford Back-to-School Supplies

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The mix of rising costs and stagnant wages is making it harder than ever for many parents to afford back-to-school supplies.

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A recent survey conducted by Credit Karma found that 37% of parents are unable to afford back-to-school shopping for their kids due to rising inflation and 42% plan to take on debt to pay for back-to-school shopping.

If you’re in this situation, there are resources that you can turn to for free or discounted school supplies.

Your Kids’ School

“It’s not easy to phone or email your child’s teacher and ask for advice on where to get cheap or free school supplies, but there should be nothing shameful about requesting free school supplies in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis,” said Ricardo Pina, personal finance expert and founder of The Modest Wallet. “You won’t be the only parent who contacts the school.”

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In addition to the teacher, you may want to reach out to the school’s parent-teacher organization, said Scott Winstead, education expert and founder of MyElearningWorld.com.

“Usually,” he said, “there is assistance through the PTO or other organizations.”

Local Libraries, Churches and Community Centers

“Many local churches run backpack-filling campaigns around back-to-school time,” Winstead said.

Local libraries and community centers also sometimes offer free school supply giveaways, so it’s worth looking into what’s available near you.

Nonprofit Organizations

Several nonprofit organizations offer back-to-school resources for families in need, including free school supplies.

“The Salvation Army runs local programs for providing backpacks stuffed with supplies to those in need,” Winstead said. “United Way also hosts yearly back-to-school drives for free supplies. Check with your local chapters.”

In addition to nationwide nonprofits, look into organizations that serve your community.

Online Deals

“Some websites sell donated or used school supplies at a discount,” said Victoria Taylor, a parent, teacher and founder of BestCaseParenting.com. “Amazon, eBay and Craigslist are all good resources for finding cheap deals on school supplies.”

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Family and Friends

“Parents can ask friends and family members if they have any extra school supplies that they can donate,” Taylor said.

Their kids may have aged out of certain supplies, or they may have extra from buying in bulk.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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