ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- School started Tuesday morning, and many parents in southeastern Minnesota have spent hundreds of dollars - if not more - leading up to the first day.
Every family has its own strategy for loading up on pens, pencils, folders, sneakers, backpacks and calculators.
"I go back and look at everything we have from last year," said Rochester parent Ann Burton.
But no matter what the strategy, back to school usually means digging deep.
"I have a son that finished high school last year, so we've been doing this for a while," Burton said. "I just know that August and September are going to be some tight months, and so we just make it work."
According to the National Retail Federation, back to school and back to college shopping is expected to hit $72.5 billion this year or an average of about $635 per family -- and that number isn't just binders and loose leaf.
"Our fitting room will be filled with denim and people getting all the new washes," said Target Store Manager Adam Boes.
New fall clothes and shoes take a big chunk of the budget. The average family spends about $90 on supplies but $230 on clothes and another $115 on shoes."
"You want them to have some fun nice new school clothes, so we shop the sales," Burton said.
Then comes the fees, clothing and equipment for sports, new or upgraded technology and other odds and ends. It's no surprise parents are looking for strategies to get through the year.
"I'll be like that geeky mom that once school starts and they mark everything way down, I will go and make a stash to use during the school year and maybe decrease the impact next year," Burton said.
When it comes to all the first day requirements, are you better off buying early or waiting until the last minute?
"It's a catch 22," Burton said. "If you wait, everything is picked over. I am missing two folders for my 5th grader."
Buying early seems to be the strategy nationally and in Rochester, fewer than 3 percent of parents wait until the last week.
"Rochester seems really prepared," Boes said. "They've already kind of done their back to school shopping, and now it's last minute snack boxes and things like that as they're shopping."
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