Common Ground: Shopping for school can be stressful

Like it or not, the second biggest shopping season of the year is here, and back-to-school ads and store uniform displays are in no short supply.

Parents, including me, are already feeling the stressful financial pinch and searching for ways to save money, whether it’s through comparative shopping or finding apps that deliver mobile coupons or even getting phone text alerts about summer sales.

Bargain spenders can even take advantage of Louisiana’s sales tax holiday on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1-2. Families can knock off 4 percent in taxes from their bill.

Some stores make it easier for shoppers to buy everything all at one time, by loading backpacks with school supplies and bundling computers with other devices.

Regardless of the multiple approaches toward shopping, the process of back-to-school preparation is still highly stressful, according to a new survey released by ebates.

In the survey, more than half of parents surveyed said they were concerned with not being able to afford school essentials.

Fifty-six percent of adults ranked shopping for clothes and school items as their No. 1 stressor; followed with 50 percent saying it was their children’s hectic student schedules; 38 percent say it’s helping with homework; 31 percent say it’s worrying about bullying at school; and 29 percent stress over bad teachers.

At my house, our back-to-school spending habits are similar to those of most U.S. families with children in grades kindergarten through 12. Such households are expected to spend about $669 this year on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation. Christmas spending came in at about $740 for families last year, the federation says.

Buying school essentials for our three children — two of whom are in elementary school and our 12-year-old in middle school — requires that we calculate our spending wisely.

Our children are also expected to bring classroom supplies during school’s opening weeks. Often, those lists are huge, running the gamut from big binders, cleaning supplies, notebooks and pencils, to paper for the copier, loose-leaf paper, folders, sheet protectors and … the list goes on.

According to the survey, American children are not even remotely stressed about school-supply finances. That’s an adult’s concern.

Instead, teenagers surveyed ranked their top source of stress as “waking up early to get to class,” 69 percent; “getting too much homework,” 64 percent; “not liking my teachers,” 42 percent and “not having the right clothes,” 32 percent.

Looking back at my school-age years, I, too, dreaded going back to school for many of those reasons.

However, if a teenager’s biggest stress is “waking up early,” then I will happily trade places with one.

Chante Dionne Warren can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.