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Completing back to school shopping without breaking the bank

Posted at 6:27 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 10:21:31-04

It's that time where parents are stocking up for the school year. The supplies are mostly the same, but it won't be a traditional academic year by a long shot.

"I really want parents to focus on the bare essentials," Dr. Lex Curtis said.

The National Retail Federation reports parents have only grabbed 17% of what's on their kid's list.

"Our lists are very similar to years past, but our expectations for the students are slightly different," she said.

Dr. Curtis is a 4th-grade teacher at Sessums Elementary in Riverview. She wants parents to know it's okay if you can't find everything.

"Sanitizers, wipes, and things like that, they’re in high demand," Dr. Curtis said. "So it’s not the expectation that we stress parents out during this stressful time even more than they have to be."

Dr. Curtis also suggests checking to see if you have any supplies leftover from last year. If you do need items, hunt for bargains.

"We also recommend going to the dollar tree, a lot of parents overlook that," she said. "We want to encourage parents to stay away from the fancy things. It’s going to be very different, not as much hanging out with their friends. So, it’ll lead to less opportunities for them to discuss the new things they have this year."

For kids whose parents opted for distance learning, a laptop may be on the top of mind. A survey shows 36% of parents are looking to buy a new one.

"The base model you would get is totally fine. So don’t get caught up on you have this amount of RAM or this amount of gigabytes," Pooja Pendharkar said. "Make sure it has a good webcam and most laptops these days come with a decent webcam and a mic."

Pendharkar has worked in several non-traditional IT roles. The tech junkie says you don't want to forget the accessories. That includes headphones, like the ones that are probably still in your old iPhone box, a Bluetooth-connected mouse, a comfy chair and maybe even some glasses that block out blue light, since your child will be in front of the computer much more often.

"My laptop is on a little laptop stand so it’s the right height for my head," she said.

Other advice from Pendharkar and Dr. Curtis to keep in mind:

  • Check out refurbished computers. If they're from the manufacturer, they're just as good and much cheaper.
  • Get your kid a library card. They can read more and even print out worksheets if you don't have a printer at home.
  • Talk to their teacher. Many of them have extra supplies and understand this is a tough time for everyone.