Author Topic: Back to School Spending  (Read 8874 times)

andrea-stache

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Back to School Spending
« on: August 19, 2013, 07:35:36 AM »
I just read an article where the average family spends $635 on back to school shopping. 

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/smart-spending-back-school-shopping-101-19982887

I'm wondering what all these people are buying.  I've got a daughter in middle school and a son in  elementary.  All in we spent $66 (or a little over 1/10th of the estimate).   

How about you guys...what do you spend?

brand new stash

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 07:46:36 AM »
I have two daughters going into first grade.  I bought the $37 school supply kit from the PTA for each of them.  That's all so far.  There are still two more weeks until school starts, and I'm planning on buying each of them a new pair of shoes, probably from target or payless, so assume $20 each.

I will also buy them some more fall/winter clothes as time goes on, but because of the weather where we live, that's two or three months away until they need that, so I'm going to continue my garage sales shopping and then hit a consignment store before buying anything new if I still need to in a few months.

meadow lark

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 08:35:11 AM »
   I can see how that happens if you have multiple kids.  Our school supply lists are outrageous.  And make me very angry.  The children are often graded on the completeness of their supplies, and they often include 4 Kleenex boxes, hand sanitizer, 3 rolls of paper towels, a box of large and small
Ziploc bags, plus a bizarrely specific list of 1 purple, 1 green, 1 red pocketed folder with 3 tabs, etc, etc.  You shouldn't be graded on how much money or time your parents are willing to spend on you, but I saw a lot of that.  Especially all the third grade projects that were obviously written or drawn by people who had Ph.Ds.  (He went to a "good" public elementary.)
  Now my son goes to a charter school that targets poorer kids - the kids show up, are given the uniform (a T-shirt with the school name and logo), and everything is supplied. 

Frugal_in_DC

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 09:02:13 AM »
We have spent $0 so far.  All the clothes and shoes still fit, so no need to replace them yet.  Backpacks are still in good shape.  Luckily our school is very low-key when it comes to supplies.  They'll request the standard notebooks, pens, pencils, and such once school begins, but it's all pretty inexpensive and can be purchased along with the groceries.

The whole concept of shopping seasons is so silly...After school starts I guess the Halloween shopping season will begin in full force. *sigh*

Simple Abundant Living

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 09:14:30 AM »
New shoes for 4 kids- $66 from Vans outlet(We have 5 in school, but one has shoes that still fit and are good to go)
Required supplies- $40, but I stocked up on sale items so we don't have to buy a folder or notebook mid-year for $1.50 instead of .10 now.
3 new Backpacks- bought early summer for $24 total at Columbia outlet. - one kid is reusing his, the other got a nearly new hand me down.  We only replace backpacks every 3 years or so.
$132 total for five kids, but I'm sure as soon as they start I'll be getting a "wish list" of supplies needed from teacher.  I'm hoping my school supply hoard will see me through that.  I'll also be sending lysol wipes and kleenex from my own supply.

avonlea

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 09:33:36 AM »
  The children are often graded on the completeness of their supplies, and they often include 4 Kleenex boxes, hand sanitizer, 3 rolls of paper towels, a box of large and small
Ziploc bags, plus a bizarrely specific list of 1 purple, 1 green, 1 red pocketed folder with 3 tabs, etc, etc.  You shouldn't be graded on how much money or time your parents are willing to spend on you, but I saw a lot of that. 

Graded on completeness of their supplies?  That's grading the parents, not the children.  Grrr...completely unfair.
I understand the list for specific folders and such.  Since all of the supplies are shared, it helps to avoid drama.  "Susie got a pink folder.  Why do I have to use an orange one?"
Paying directly to the PTA and letting them get all of the supplies at a discounted cost is brilliant.  I'm glad that brandnewstash's school has a set-up like that.

Personally, I am not upset about paying for school supplies.  I seriously love my daughter's school and am happy to help in any way that I can.  I see the teachers already working so hard for the students and sacrificing a lot of their free time.  I don't want them buying extra supplies with their earnings as well.  Would I be happy if the school budgets were more aligned with my own priorities?  Absolutely.  Less money on standardized tests and more money on school supplies would be welcome by parents and teachers alike, I believe.

As far as what we have spent thus far...about $50 on supplies and $30 on a brand new pair of sneakers.

« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 09:40:26 AM by avonlea »

nico demouse

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 09:45:01 AM »
I wonder if those totals include registration and books? In our school district we are required to pay a registration fee (over $100) and in high school the kids are required to purchase their own books.

Our school offered a school supply package for $70 (!) but we bought the items ourselves for ~$35. I think if I did a better job of following the school supply sales we could do it cheaper next year.

I also splurged (and it was a splurge) on a new backpack and lunch bag for my son. I couldn't find anything at thrift that was plain enough (lots of logo-ed stuff from weird conferences, etc). We made a decision that since we were buying new in this case, we'd buy a bag we thought would last for a long time. Backpack was ~$40 and the lunchbox was ~$20. I'm hopeful they'll last through elementary school which will make the cost/year more bearable.

Still need to buy a pair of velcro gym shoes for the kiddo, but before that we are at total sending (registration, supplies, lunch box and backpack) of $220. Which is insane, really. Except that $125 of that we had no choice about if he is going to do public school. Consumables (stuff we will need to rebuy next year) were only ~$35 of that.

maustache

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 10:03:05 AM »
I usually buy my own school supplies on the "tax free" weekend (tax approaches 10% here in TN so it makes a difference), re-use everything I can, and "forget" to send in a few items I think they're rarely or ever going to use (luckily we don't get graded on our supplies like one of the previous posters!).  We started school August 6 so they're fine wearing summer clothes for a couple months so at most I buy an extra pair of shorts or sneakers for the start of school.  My teen-age daughter is more into what she wears, but she buys clothes year-round and is happy with relatively inexpensive items from Old Navy.  I've never spent that much for Back to School.

My pet peeve is the required agenda planners required here.  The prices of these have gone up from about $4 when my daughter started first grade to $10 this year.   I always assumed that the school was just not bothering to research cheaper options so I looked around on my own one time.  It turns out there was a company right here in town that makes them for under $2.50 and will deliver them to the school free of charge.  They gave me some samples and I thought they were definitely comparable. Then my kids saw them and were begging for one of these because they thought they were nicer.  I sent a message out to the PTA board and principal suggesting we look into it further.  I got a very strong warning from the PTA president that we this is not our responsibility and we are to stay out of it.  Then I got a call from the principal (who very seldom answers emails at all) and was told various reasons why we weren't going to switch companies.  To make a long story short, the school gets discounts on other items by requiring us to pay inflated prices for these.  Most people just kind of shrug and say "What can you do?"  I thought people here would sympathize!  The $10 isn't a big deal for one kid, but adds up when you have more.  And my kids hardly ever use these!!

sol

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 10:17:12 AM »
This year we've budgeted $150 for each child, including clothes and shoes and supplies like paper and pencils.  It's a deliberately generous number, from parents who are virtually FI already.

It's an experiment.  We'll give them the total and then take them shopping.  If they get everything they need for less, the extra goes into their savings accounts.  If they want to spend more, it comes out of their savings accounts. 

Our kids are highly motivated by dollars, which is strange for a household awash in surplus cash.  They'd rather write out "I will not use bad language" 50 times than pay a $1 fine for swearing.  Charging them $1 per minute for us to listen to them argue on long car trips has been a godsend for family harmony, as suddenly they are best friends (or at least sullenly silent) for the duration of the ride.

Knowing that about them, our hope is that they will carefully compare prices to try to minimize their own back-to-school bills.

avonlea

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 10:30:00 AM »
Charging them $1 per minute for us to listen to them argue on long car trips has been a godsend for family harmony, as suddenly they are best friends (or at least sullenly silent) for the duration of the ride.

That's brilliant. :)

MountainFlower

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 11:50:00 AM »
I spent about $50 for my Kindergartner.  $40 of that was for school supplies and $10 for a pair of Sperry Top siders marked waaaaay down.   We are blessed with lots of hand-me-downs so clothes don't factor in.

I think clothes shopping is probably the big thing and if kids are in sports and/or music. 


oldtoyota

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 12:13:46 PM »
$0.

We bought shoes, but we'd have to buy those anyway. Also, we pay tuition. All of the supplies come out of that, so I do not pay additional money for supplies. I love it. I get out of the whole September spendy craziness.


MountainFlower

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 12:19:01 PM »
$0.

We bought shoes, but we'd have to buy those anyway. Also, we pay tuition. All of the supplies come out of that, so I do not pay additional money for supplies. I love it. I get out of the whole September spendy craziness.

Can I make a confession?  I LOVED back to school time when I was a kid.  I loved getting new pens and pencils and notebooks.    I find I have the same excitement again now that my daughter has started Kindergarten.  I think it's so much fun to start the school year with a fresh box of crayons and a new notebook.  I'm not a shopper in general and I hate going to stores with this one exception.  I absolutely love back to school time and all the stuff that goes with it.  Okay, I had to get that off my chest after seeing oldtoyota's joy at missing all of it.  Perish the thought!  LOL!

Frugalady10

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 12:59:59 PM »
We have a long supply list that includes things like "25 yellow 2 sharpened pencils". Last year I think supplies totaled about $50. We have used this time to let relatives who love to spend money in lieu of buying clothes/toys, I said, "how about a box of crayons?" We also got my son new sneakers, but they were free with a gift card leftover from my birthday.

oldtoyota

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 01:22:26 PM »
$0.

We bought shoes, but we'd have to buy those anyway. Also, we pay tuition. All of the supplies come out of that, so I do not pay additional money for supplies. I love it. I get out of the whole September spendy craziness.

Can I make a confession?  I LOVED back to school time when I was a kid.  I loved getting new pens and pencils and notebooks.    I find I have the same excitement again now that my daughter has started Kindergarten.  I think it's so much fun to start the school year with a fresh box of crayons and a new notebook.  I'm not a shopper in general and I hate going to stores with this one exception.  I absolutely love back to school time and all the stuff that goes with it.  Okay, I had to get that off my chest after seeing oldtoyota's joy at missing all of it.  Perish the thought!  LOL!

LOL.

orcas50

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2013, 02:37:48 PM »
I've spent about $90 for school supplies (very specific and long list from teachers) for 2 kids, $50 for a new backpack and lunchbox for my younger child  (my older child's lunchbox/backpack are on year 3 and in perfect shape.) Plus new sneakers for both and dressier shoes for one, all on sale but still about $120 (Yes, it is facepunch-worthy but I prefer good quality shoes and refuse to buy them at Payless, sorry!) Not many clothes needed, but when they do they are from consignment shop where I use store credit from old clothes, books and toys I bring in. A few other things from Old Navy, for a total so far of about $300.

crazy jane

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2013, 03:25:42 PM »
   I can see how that happens if you have multiple kids.  Our school supply lists are outrageous.  And make me very angry.  The children are often graded on the completeness of their supplies, and they often include 4 Kleenex boxes, hand sanitizer, 3 rolls of paper towels, a box of large and small
Ziploc bags, plus a bizarrely specific list of 1 purple, 1 green, 1 red pocketed folder with 3 tabs, etc, etc.  You shouldn't be graded on how much money or time your parents are willing to spend on you, but I saw a lot of that.  Especially all the third grade projects that were obviously written or drawn by people who had Ph.Ds.  (He went to a "good" public elementary.)
  Now my son goes to a charter school that targets poorer kids - the kids show up, are given the uniform (a T-shirt with the school name and logo), and everything is supplied.

As a teacher I can explain the bizarre colored folders. Thry help the kids with executive functioning. For example, math is always green or reading is always red. This is the agreed upon system across several grade levels and it keeps especially disorganized kids more organized. If a student is going to be late for the bus and is standing at their locker finding the green math stuff is easier than rummaging around for a random notebook. Also, I am grateful for the supply of kleenex provided by the students. Thank you.

Gin

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2013, 07:02:29 PM »
With 2 kids I probably spent $300.  I spent $85 for 2 PE uniforms, yearbook, and a planner for my oldest.  The only thing optional was $35 yearbook.  Add in shoes, new backpack (old one too small he had it for 4 yrs), few clothes, plus school supplies. 

kkbmustang

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2013, 07:28:58 PM »
School supplies are included in tuition for our two.

School uniforms:$300 (combo used uniform sale at their school and Lands End)
Shoes (Sperry's and saddle shoes -must be brand specific), Belt and 2 Hair Accessories: $123
Gym shoes for the Boy: $30 (haven't bought them yet, so guessing here)
Alterations for the Girl's used jumpers: $15 -estimating (I don't sew)
Backpacks: $0, bought two from LandsEnd 2 years ago and still in perfect condition

We got a gym bag for our son from the used uniform sale. It has some other kid's name on it so I got matching duck tape ($7) to cover it up then will use a sharpie to mark my son's name on it.

I'm estimating $25 for anything else I forgot.

$500 total for 2 kids

lentilman

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2013, 08:18:24 PM »
One kid: $31.50 for school supplies.  Clothes/shoes we get as needed and don't time to start with school.

I was irritated to have to buy book covers.  We used to make them out of paper bags!

kkbmustang

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2013, 08:22:05 PM »
I was irritated to have to buy book covers.  We used to make them out of paper bags!

Ditto. I saved the ones we had to buy last year.

MountainFlower

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2013, 08:35:20 PM »
I was irritated to have to buy book covers.  We used to make them out of paper bags!

Ditto. I saved the ones we had to buy last year.

DollarTree has bookcovers if you're spending over a buck for them.

teen persuasion

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2013, 08:58:42 PM »
We've bought a laptop for DD3 since she's starting college in a week (we did the same for the 2 oldest kids), new sneakers for the kids that needed them (replaced when needed, not just in Sept.) and a new backpack for DS5 (he's had his previous one since pre-k, and it was appropriately sized then, but not so much now).  Total under $500, skewed by the laptop. 

I used to aggressively stockpile pens/pencils/notebooks/folders during the back-to-school loss-leader sales, and now have such a stash of items that I probably don't need to buy much.  With 5 kids and a teacher hubby, it was easier to just buy a bunch and shop the cabinet as needed.  I think the kids have noticed that pens are the only obvious missing item.

I don't use back-to-school as a time to buy a whole new wardrobe for the kids.  They tend to receive more than enough clothes as birthday/xmas gifts from family members, and hand-me-downs from older sibs or cousins.

girly mustache

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2013, 09:05:37 PM »
$45 in school clothes (uniform) - 3 shirts, 1 jumper and a 3-pack of socks (the remainder of her uniforms from last year still fit). $60 in required school supplies given to the teacher to use throughout the year. A new backpack -- just because I wanted to...

kkbmustang

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2013, 09:14:22 AM »
I was irritated to have to buy book covers.  We used to make them out of paper bags!

Ditto. I saved the ones we had to buy last year.

DollarTree has bookcovers if you're spending over a buck for them.

Thanks for the tip!

ace1224

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2013, 09:21:34 AM »
i hate buying school supplies, like another poster its the first "grade" our kids get of the year.  on my son's list this year is 10 packs of 2 count glue sticks.  wtf are they doing?  eating it?  thats a lot of effing glue man.  he also needs to send in 5 reams of paper, which is cool i know teachers pay for them out of pocket, and 4 boxes of crayloa crayons.  for real it says crayola. blah.

i should just let him get like a 50%, unfortunately the part of me that wants the teacher to like my son won't allow that.

cosmie

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Re: Back to School Spending
« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2013, 09:37:47 AM »
I'm wondering what all these people are buying.  I've got a daughter in middle school and a son in  elementary.  All in we spent $66 (or a little over 1/10th of the estimate).   
The article mentions .edu discounts (Apple products and Amazon Prime, specifically), which are college student discounts. So I have a suspicion that $634 estimate is being skewed by the college student figures.

My costs so far this semester (which starts tomorrow):
$600 in books - Buying used doesn't help as much anymore since so many have accompanying one-time-use codes to access online homework software, where buying a new code by itself costs as much as the new book.
$10 in supplies - I work for a department at the university, so most of my supply needs are met by a lovely gray cabinet they have
$60 for a clicker (used) - Some professors use for in-class quizzes, take attendance, etc. School upgraded the Turning Point system since I last had to use mine, so needed a new compatible one.
$1,000 for new computer - The $500 laptop I've been using no longer meets college requirements, so I needed to upgrade. I've cheaped out in this area before, so I splurged this time. My first laptop didn't have powerful enough wireless to compete for a connection on the overcrowded network. My second laptop worked for 2 years (before not meeting requirements), but it had a lot of compromises that made it terrible for the abuse and flexibility needed for campus. Business-grade laptops are almost necessary, I've learned, to handle the wear-and-tear and flexibility of constantly being on the go. So I splurged on a good one with an excellent wireless radio, respectable battery life, great portability and durability, and a built in Wacom digitizer (I do web development and graphic design work, and it's great for annotating lecture notes). So I'm writing off half of this as a business expense and half as an education expense (I was forced to upgrade, so I consider that 'a condition of enrollment'), lessening the sticker shock somewhat. It also makes me feel better since a majority of students opt for Macbooks, which range from $1,200-$2,000 for the popular ones.

Total (so far - classes still haven't started): $1,670
Add in another $600 for next semester's books, for the total year (plus graduation ransom fees).

This has been a lighter year on books too, last year I had a semester top out at over $1,000 in total books+online course software fees.

And that's assuming the article isn't also talking about dorm/apartment furnishings that retailers typically include in back-to-school sales.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 09:41:26 AM by cosmie »