Back-to-School Shopping: Do They Really NEED All that Stuff?
Have you looked at your little student's supply list yet? If so, have you considered back to school shopping with some disdain and then wondered if they really need all that stuff?
Depending on your school system – the things that your child is expected to bring to school on the first day can range from a book bag full of sharp pencils and crayons to a cart load of supplies that includes soap, batteries, and paper towels. If the latter is true for you then back to school shopping can definitely be costly, which for many of us with multiple children or on tight budgets can cause a great deal of stress.
After years of back to school shopping, I have learned a few things!
The first is that NO, they don't need all that stuff. And even if teachers ask for “Expo” brand dry erase makers only – they will accept the cheaper and just as effective “Rose Art” brand. Additionally, your first priority needs to be to provide your child with what they (individually) will actually need to be prepared in school. If you are having trouble affording the other things like hand sanitizer, paper towels, Ziploc bags, paper towels etc. then just let the teacher know that you will donate these items during another time of the school year when the supplies run low. Or, you can offer to provide them with a gift card they can use for classroom supplies since so many elementary school teachers put in their own money to create nice projects for our children.
Another tip – before you buy something that is expensive but ‘oh so adorable' remember that there is a pretty good chance it is going to get lost. Will you be okay if your child loses an $80 Vera Bradley book bag? If they come home without their $10 monogrammed pencil box, will you be seething and wishing you stuck to the one that cost a dollar? My motto is never send anything to school that you would be mad about if it didn't return to you.
Another word to the wise – especially if your children are older – is to wait and buy school supplies (aside from the basics) after the first day of school. Often times, the generic list generated either leaves things off completely, or causes you to buy unnecessary things. If your child is in a grade where he or she has multiple teachers, this is especially true. Registration and the first few days of school are often the best times to find out what your child REALLY needs to be school-ready, and waiting can save you much wasted money in things that your child doesn't need.
What have you learned about shopping for school supplies?