SAN DIEGO — Going back to school this year looks very different for a lot of San Diego families who are just trying to afford the higher cost of school supplies.
They’re either going without — or getting creative.
Kuli Viehmann, a newly single mother of three, says she’s having anxiety over how to afford school supplies for her two older kids this year as costs are on the rise.
“Even when I went to Target for their sale, I didn’t realize it was a sale,” Viehmann told FOX 5.
That’s because basic back-to-school supplies cost about 10% more than last year.
Viehmann recounted her recent experience shopping for a glue stick.
“It was like $4.84. I just remember, in my head, my gosh, why is it so expensive? I don’t remember it being that expensive last year,” Viehmann said.
And with long lists of back-to-school supplies for each child, it adds up quickly.
“Cost-wise, oh man, it’s going to have to be $100 for two kids. That’s a lot of pressure.”
She’s not alone. According to a recent survey, 38% of parents plan to cut back in other areas to make up for the higher price of school supplies. And many are skipping their annual tradition of back-to-school shopping altogether.
“They don’t necessarily need new clothes, but that’s been a tradition of ours,” Viehmann said.
She is also getting creative to save.
“My daughter, she has the journals from last year. I was just thinking, I could just take out the pages. They never use all of it … we can still reuse this,” Viehmann said.
Since fall sports kick in at the same time as school starts, she’s also using apps like OfferUp to buy cheaper gear.
“There’s this group called Buy Nothing, and I’ll put on there if my daughter needs cleats or something.”
Higher education also comes at a higher price this year.
“College is a little bit different. Households, they are going to spend $74 billion in total — that’s over $1,000 per household — to send kids back to the quad,” Daniel Roccato, a finance professor at University of San Diego, told FOX 5.
He suggests parents head to the college bookstore for deals.
“Bookstores now have virtually everything, from computers to notebooks, and oftentimes have pretty good deals for their students.”
As a financial expert, Roccato advises people not to go into debt to afford supplies, but instead shop early, don’t buy everything at once, and use a credit card that offers cashback.
Families strapped for cash should also contract their local schools, which have programs to help.
Laura Upson oversees a program called Youth in Transition in the Poway Unified School District. She says with inflation, they’re assisting more families than ever.
“Reach out to your teacher, your principal, don’t be shy, I know it’s hard, but there are a lot of folks out there who want to help you,” Upson told FOX 5.
On Saturday, Aug. 13, the County of San Diego is giving away backpacks and school supplies to families in need. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Development of Child Support Services office, 3666 Kearny Villa Road.