Making Back-to-School Shopping Fun and Affordable

Myka Meier and her daughter Valentina
Myka Meier and her daughter Valentina bond over back-to-school shopping.

“How is this possible?”

Myka Meier kept coming back to that question while first looking over her daughter Valentina’s first grade shopping list. She thought about how time-consuming finding everything would be, not to mention how expensive everything would add up to be.

Myka is not alone. A 2022 survey of U.S. parents showed that 75% are at least somewhat stressed about the costs of back-to-school shopping—up from 67% last year. Inflation and tightened supply chains are fueling stress and anxiety during a time when children need to feel encouraged and supported.

However, with some smart planning, clever parenting tips and tricks, and a little help from PayPal, parents and caregivers can make this back-to-school season not just affordable, but a time to connect and bond with their children.

Tip #1: Look for deals to keep costs down

With inflation still a big concern, many parents are bound to feel some sticker shock while going through their shopping lists.

Myka recommends parents sit down with kids and go through the school’s list together. “We went through everything we already had that we could reuse. And then we said, ‘OK, this is what we actually need.’”

From there, parents can start looking for deals and discounts, but this can be challenging and time consuming. PayPal Honey, a desktop and mobile browser extension, can automatically apply coupons and cash-back deals at checkout. Shoppers can also follow stores, be alerted to sales, or add items to a Droplist to be notified of price drops.

Tip #2: Shop online to save time

Myka Meier and her daughter Valentina
The summer may be ending but back-to-school shopping can continue the fun.

Parents can come to dread the amount of time they have to spend on back-to-school shopping. Having to go from one store to another to pick up clothes, electronics, school supplies, sporting goods, and more can eat up entire days.

Online shopping can save hours of time, and for Myka, it makes comparing different prices easier and more convenient. No need to walk back and forth between stores looking for the best deal.

Want to save even more time? Choosing PayPal at checkout means not having to type out your address and card number at different retailers, and it adds a layer of security to your purchases.

Tip #3: Help build kid’s confidence  

Myka Meier and her daughter Valentina
Myka says preparing Valentina to feel confident at school is vital.

It’s common for some children to feel a gnawing sense of anxiety as the summer vacations start winding down. Kids might start wondering: “Will I still see my old friends?” “Will my new teacher like me?” or “Are classes going to get harder?”

“The big thing is giving them confidence to go back to school,” said Myka. For example, if a child doesn’t feel like they’re good at math, “Focus on picking something special for math class, giving them something exciting to look forward to,” she advised.

Asking kids “What’s going to make you feel extra special on this first day?” can help guide parents as they shop, enabling them find something that can help ease some of the “scaries” over going back to school.

Tip #4: Shop for things that’ll last beyond the school year

While shopping, caregivers might have to pick between a more expensive, better-quality item or a cheaper and more disposable one.

“For my family, when choosing what to spend more money on, for sustainability and durability, that’s 100% backpacks and shoes,” shared Myka. “Teaching kids about quality and value from a young age is important, showing them that maybe something is a little bit more expensive because we can use it for longer.”

When considering those pricier options, PayPal’s Pay Later products can help put them within reach by allowing shoppers flexibility to split the costs over multiple payments.

 Tip #5: Allow kids to pick fun things they’ll enjoy

It might be tempting to cut out the “fun” extras from a shopping list to keep costs low, but it’s important to give kids a chance to feel excited about their back-to-school supplies. Letting them pick out something special, like a colorful pair of shoes or new headphones, can be a great way to do this.  

How to pay for these extras? Use credit card rewards, like those offered by the PayPal Cashback Mastercard, to pick up those goodies without breaking the back-to-school budget.

“I’ll put back-to-school shopping on a credit card because I know my points can turn into cash,” said Myka. “You’re spending the money anyways, so it might as well give you a reward!”

Back-to-school shopping can help set them up for success

By following some of these tips, parents can take on back-to-school shopping without feeling overwhelmed by school lists. Instead, they can shop smartly and with confidence that they’re getting a good deal while encouraging their kids to be excited about the new year.

“For me, creating a good back-to-school experience gives kids confidence so that they put their best foot forward on that first day,” said Myka. “It’s about them being excited about using what you’ve bought together or showing off their own personal style. Confident children are happy children, and happy children make well-rounded children.”

Find out more about how to split costs with friends and family, or keeping costs down while you’re travelling.

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