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Back-to-School Shopping Tips in 2020

Normally this time of year I cover how to score great back-to-school deals. But as we all know, this year doesn’t look like any other we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Safety and logistics are parents’ primary concerns, but I still have a few suggestions to help you get back into the swing of the school year, whether or that’s in-person or in a virtual environment.

Of course, masks remain vital.

Masks are more readily available now than they were at the beginning of the pandemic, but they will certainly be needed in droves once school begins. One way to get ahead of the need is to go in on a bulk order with a group of friends or neighbors so you have plenty on hand. Most already have a mask for all family members, but with fewer outings, may only have a few on hand. At school clean masks will always be needed, as well as extras in the event of a misplacement. Going in on an order together can reduce costs and save on shipping and handling if you’re ordering. Plus, regardless of if you are virtual or not, you’ll still need masks in public for the indefinite future. It’s a win/win.

It's a great time to buy backpacks.

There is something just so “school” about a backpack. Getting a new one each year, or every few, is a fun tradition for a lot of families and helps build excitement for the upcoming school year. The good news? With so many changes to the school year, not as many families have hit the stores for back-to-school shopping. But that also means stores are offering even more deals than normal to entice shoppers. This includes essentials like backpacks or other supplies, so it’s a great time to buy. Even if you are virtual or don’t think you have use for as many items at present, consider buying now to save in future years. From a routine perspective in a virtual environment, consider having your kids pack their backpack anyways for their daily lessons. It helps them mentally transition to learning mode and have a routine amid significant change.

What to do about school supplies?

Some schools offer pre-bundled school supply pick-ups to take the burden out of shopping each year. If you took advantage of this but are now virtual, you may have more supplies on hand than needed. If you have an excess, check with your teacher before making any decisions, but you have a few options. You can either donate them to a school or organization collecting them right now in your community, or hold onto them for a future school year. This will shave the bill for next years’ supply haul.

This is certainly not the standard back-to-school experience for most, but with these tips, you’ll save some money and be prepared for it all.


Kat’s Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, follow us on Twitter @CommunityAmerCU.

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