It is not only the students who complain about the start of the school season, it is also their parents.
Well, at least financially.
A Deloitte Back-to-School survey in 2022 found that 57% of back-to-school shoppers are concerned about spending increases, with the expectation that it will hit a new high of $661 per student. This is an increase of $53, or 8%, from the 2021-2022 school year.
“Inflation is definitely impacting the way people plan this event,” Lupine Skelly, chief of retail research for the Consumer Industry Center at Deloitte, said in a company blog post. “Three in five said they were concerned about higher school costs, [plus] people are dealing with higher supermarket and gas prices, which means you really have to budget.”
Similarly, Lesley Deas, senior research manager at Flipp, an app and website that lets you browse or search retail circulars, found that 43% of parents expect to spend more this year.
“We saw that higher prices affect how parents plan to shop and what they expect to spend,” said Deas, based on findings from Flipp’s June survey conducted by Maru/BLUE. “This is partly because classroom learning has fully resumed, but parents said ‘higher prices’ are the main reason for their budget adjustments.”
Fortunately, there are several free apps, websites, and browser extensions that can help students and parents find deals on back-to-school essentials.
They each work a little differently, but the following are five worthy considerations.
Formerly eBates, Rakuten refunds members in cash every time you shop online at participating retailers, with more than 3,500 supporting stores, the company says.
Here’s how it works: Sign up for a free account and launch the app or website whenever you want to start shopping (or choose the browser extension). Then when you buy something from one of the supported retailers, Rakuten will share the commission they get from stores because they send you their way.
The percentage you get back varies. You can choose to be paid by check, PayPal deposit or American Express Member Rewards points.
Rakuten also offers a $30 referral bonus if someone you refer signs up and makes a $30 purchase within 90 days.
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Flipp collects those paper circulars (store ads) that we get at our door, but also highlights the best deals.
Type in your zip code and the app or website will list your local retailers and the sales and coupons they offer, whether you’re looking for electronics, homeware, fashion, school supplies, or groceries.
You can browse the 2,000+ retailers or search by keyword, while a “Watch List” keeps track of the deals you want on specific items and Flipp notifies you when new deals come in.
The app also includes all your loyalty and store rewards cards virtually to scan at checkout, rather than carrying a bag or purse full of plastic.
Slickdeals is a website, app and browser extension with a community of approximately 12 million savvy shoppers.
Collectively, these deal hunters seek and share great store discounts, coupons and promo codes from all top stores, including brick and mortar and online retailers, and deals are then verified by the community through a voting system.
For example, if someone finds a huge sale on say a Samsung widescreen monitor ideal for a dorm room, others can confirm and/or clarify the sale, with the best of the best deals often appearing on the Slickdeals front page.
If you’re looking for something specific, you can set up a Deal Alert to get notified when it’s on sale.
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As the name suggests, the Cashback Rewards program allows users to receive cash backs at participating retailers, through PayPal credits, gift cards, and other options.
According to PayPal Honey, this handy shopping partner has helped customers find more than $100 million in savings.
PayPal Honey, a free desktop and browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge or Opera, keeps an eye on where you shop online and automatically applies the best promo codes and coupons found at checkout.
Plus, the platform helps you earn cash back on eligible purchases, and you can also add items to your Honey “Droplist” to keep an eye on price drops. PayPal Honey can provide information such as price history and alert consumers if the price has changed over time.
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Shoppers who like to make back-to-school purchases on their mobile device can install the PayPal Honey mobile browser through the PayPal app.
Amazon may be the largest online US retailer, but there are parts of the site and app that you may not know about that are designed to save you money.
Just like you might personally shop at a thrift or thrift store, Amazon Warehouse has great deals on quality used or refurbished products. Here you can shop for millions of used and open-box items, including used computers and tablets, home and kitchen items, unlocked cell phones, and more.
Even if you buy an Amazon Warehouse product at a discount, many items qualify for Prime or free shipping (Amazon Prime costs $139 per year, with various benefits). These items generally don’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty, but they’re all backed by Amazon’s liberal returns policy.
Amazon also has a coupons section. You can search by keyword or browse by category: Grocery, Pets, Health & Personal Care, Electronics & Wireless, Toys & Games, Home, Garden & Tools, and Fashion & Accessories.
It might not be much — like saving $3 on a box of razor blades or 20 percent off a mattress protector — but why pay more than you have to?
Note: Some coupons may only be available to Amazon Prime customers.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.