Saving On School Supplies



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Save Money On School Supplies

Which School Supplies Do You Really Need?

I have been hearing everywhere about how to save on school supplies and reading about how expensive everything is. Sometimes we concentrate so hard on how to buy things for less that we forget to ask ourselves if we really have to buy the things at all, which would save us even more in so many ways.

We still haven’t hit really hard economic times if we are discussing whether to buy a backpack with rollers or without. When times were really hard, I couldn’t have bought a backpack period. I know it may be hard to believe but you really can get an education without a backpack. I went through all my years of school and never owned a backpack.

Please don’t tell me that times are different and kids have it harder or that they have more to carry now. I had 8 classes at one point and had to carry most of my books, pencils, paper, notebooks and other supplies all day long and I did not die. I even had to carry my books and school supplies to the bus stop or I had to carry them while walking all the way to school, unlike most kids today, whose moms drop them off at the school door.

Take those school lists they give you and find out what the kids really have to have and don’t buy the rest. If the people in the school office automatically say they need everything, then try to find out from the teacher or principal. I know this is a pain but if things are really that bad for you financially you may have to do some of these things that are a “pain”.

We are like a bunch of sheep being led to the slaughter. We get our lists and blindly walk up and down the aisles of the store buying what we can’t afford and thinking there is nothing we can do about it.  I couldn’t just charge things and since I had to choose between heat, food or school supplies, I had no choice but to find out what was the least I could manage to buy.

I do know there are some things that kids really can’t do without, but things like backpacks or even lunch boxes aren’t absolutely critical. I know that some teachers have things they say you must have but at least ask if they really need everything instead of blindly buying everything.

For years, I have asked, “Why does everyone buy new school clothes for their kids” and have found that most people buy new clothes because that is what everyone else does, because that has always been the way to do it or, best of all, because “they” say you should do it.

The whole point is to start asking yourself why you buy these things and ask if they’re really necessary. In so many areas of our lives we are so used to doing things a certain way that we don’t even stop to think “Do I need to buy this?” Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.

I learned this years ago. I went to the dentist and had to pay for it myself. He immediately started ordering about 4 different x-rays and a host of other tests. I looked at him and said, “I have no insurance and very little money… What is the very least I can get by with? Do you really need all these x-rays for this one cavity?” He ended up not taking any x-rays at all.

I understand the reasons why dentists take x-rays and teachers request school supplies so please don’t e-mail me about that. Instead, try to focus on the point I am trying to make: I asked “Why?” about something I had previously thought I just had to do and because I got up the courage to question it, I saved a lot of money.

      -Jill

photo by: jonathangarcia

Comments

  1. Rachel says

    Great article Jill. It gives us something to think about. I bought my 16 yr. old new shoes in April. They still fit and are in good shape. He has 4 or 5 pairs of decent jeans. I went to Target this week and bought two polo shirts, required, and last years are still okay, but it will be hard to find the green later in the year. I also bought a pack of socks that had a coupon attached fool $2 off school supplies, so I got pencils and pens. I don’t have to worry about a jacket till much later on since we are in Florida. So I have spent $15.00 so far. Of course, as he goes the first week, teachers will let him know what he needs specific to that class. But it was minimal last year, so I am hoping for the same this year. Like you, I never had a backpack. They were not considered cool. I carried my books, and for two years walked to and from school. I’m still here!

  2. dana w says

    we don’t buy new backpacks every year for our kids, I am suprised that most people do….every year all my friends buy new backpack for their kids when lasts years is still in great condition.

  3. Brenna says

    Good morning to all!!

    The question that I was asking myself this year waa “Why do school supply lists even exist?” When I was a kid you just bought the basics…and maybe a teacher would have one specific item that they wanted you to have, but that was it. I just entered the school supply rat race this year as our oldest daughter is starting kindergarten. All in all her “list” was just for the basics, but they did request a backpack or a “bag” of some sort for ease of getting stuff home and back to school everyday. When did lists become the norm? Any ideas?

  4. Charity says

    Loved this article! We pulled a lot of the supplies from “extras” around the house. like pens and pencils, ruler. How many of these things do we have at home and don’t use. We get 1 new outfit for our daughter for school, but most everything else is handed down, still good from last year, or bought used. I think she has used the same backpack for 3 years, and her campus does not allow rollers. Thanks for sharing

  5. liz says

    I am a teacher. The supply lists at our school get made by the grade level as a team, and some teachers want a lot more than others, so the list can get long. As a mom myself, I often question the necessity of certain supplies.

    On open house, which is a week before school starts at our school, I tell parents I need scissors, glue, pencils, 2 notebooks, and crayons for each student. A pencil box is good but a ziploc bag will do the trick. I feel like my list can be purchased easily for under $5 – actually way under that if you hit some of the Staples deals, etc.

    One thing I suggest is to take the time to have you or your child label every item, that means each crayon, not just the box. If a crayon rolls to the floor, it is easy to determine whose it is and the kids don’t fight about it. You would be surprised to see how many supplies get lost right away. Also, tell your kids to take care of their supplies. So many kids play around with their things and actually break them. What a waste.

  6. jill says

    Really good suggestions Liz. I use to get frustrated because some teachers would have us supply 3-4 boxes of Kleenex, dozens of pencils, wipes, paper etc. and would have the kids give all the supplies to her and would give them out to the kids as they needed them.

    The thing was my kids had been taught to be careful with their things (like tissues, pencils and paper) and wouldn’t use much but the other kids weren’t so I was supplying all that extra for other kids because it was all put in the same “pot” for everyone to use.

    Very frustrating to say the least.

    Jill

  7. rose says

    i totally agree with you about the list of buying extra for the teacher so they would put everything in the pot for everyone… which is fine but like you said, if ur on a fixed income, you do what you can do …
    i remember one year, we got one of those lists… and well, my son was very adamant about having 2 distinct colors for his folders… i did buy extra (they were 5 cents each) but when i sent him to school the first day, his teacher took “his” folders adn put them in the pile and passed out all the colors to eveyrone in the class.. meanwhile my son, who was in a younger grade, was very upset bc he wanted “his” folders back.. the list never said that all the folders would be put in pile and passed out.. all it said was to bring 2 folders…
    so the next day, i asked the teacher why did she do that (i wasnt the only mother who confronted her on this either)… and she siad “well, we all need to learn to share”… which is all fine and dandy .. and i never had a problem with that but we all thought from that list that even tho we were asked to buy extra stuff, the list that had only 1 or 2 things on it (like notebooks, package of pencils, crayons) were for our children and all the other stuff was put in the pile for extra …
    and neither did my son but my son was very fussy… what he picked out for his supplies he felt was his and all the extra’s, he was fine with sharing… alot of the other students felt the same way…
    after that, i just made sure to label his stuff, so there wouldnt be a problem and the extra’s i personally brought in and gave to the teacher and let her/him know he has his supplies with his name on it… lots of other parents did the same thing…
    and as far as what happenend with the issues on the folders, i gave back the 2 she had given him and bc i had his extra supply with me, and yes they were labeled, he already had his…
    it was very frustrating to say the least… adn alot of kids, esp in those younger grades, were frustrated and angry… its not that they dont want to share but what they pick out for their own use they feel is there’s… all the rest can go in the pile to be shared…

  8. Alicia Webster says

    Amen to that! I agree wholeheartedly with everything that you said, and this is the best post that I have read on any website for a long, long time. I have a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old, and we will be homeschooling them. My heart goes out to all of you who have to deal with the back-to-school madness. BTW, I said the same thing to my dentist, and he also worked with me on paring down the unessentials.

  9. rose says

    i decided to make this in 2 parts…
    and some of those lists are so long, its really pathetic.. not sure if they have this on the list either, but the last yr my son was in public school, he and the other students were required to bring in 12 rolls of toileet paper each!… and whomever didnt bring it in, the teacher ended up having to supply the rest…
    like i said b4, all my children’s stuff was labeled and the rest, went in that pile…
    and some did buy extra stuff… i know i bought extra folders and notebooks (the 70 sheet notebooks, they were 10 cents each)… and well, extra packs of pencils (they were 25 cents each) … and i wasnt the only parent who did this…
    but what really galled me and the other parents is that after the kids came back from xmas vacation, we all got a letter from the teacher that she needed more supplies … i clearly can remember even to this day, the many many many extra stuff that was given by all the parents so my ?? was to the teacher, why when at the beginning of the school yr you had enuff supplies for a good 2 yrs? and her response? well, the other classes ran out and we all shared…
    i told her i was NOT going to be a bank and help out … and if my son needed anything, he would let me know… and i wasnt the only parent that was really fed up with htis teacher…. everytime you turned around, she needed htis or that… and yes i wasnt the only parent who complained either… not only in my son’s class but some of the other classes too…
    and yes it is very very frustrating… to say the least…
    when i went to school, we never had to get backpacks or anything… and allthey expected you to buy was the basic stuff… or they would sell the basic stuff that you can buy on the first day of school for like $5… which lasted most of the yr .,..
    i dont know, times have changed… adn yes, i did walk back and forth to school too… and i lived 1 block from the line of where i could have taken the bus… but bc i lived across the street, i wasnt eligible.. and i lived in miami (where its always hot) … same when i lived in nj (where it is cold)… and i am still here…
    sorry so long…
    hope eveyrone is fine… :D

  10. Heather says

    As a mom of three, as well as a new teacher doing my student teaching this year, I agree. One area where we lived did not “require” anything for school supplies. You could send supplies, and I did, but if you could not, it was provided. This was a public school. They also did not have any school fees. But another place we lived required over $100 in fees per child for the school year, which is ridiculous. I don’t even see how that is legal when it is supposed to be public education paid for by our tax dollars!

    I have, however, gladly spent money on the nice LL Bean backpacks which last for years. They are a good investment.

    As far as clothes – I buy a few things, but not a lot. Like you said, they have been wearing clothes all summer so they have plenty. Definitely a couple of packs of socks and underwear for each kid. They’ll get a few more things at Christmas also. At some point they do need new shoes because theirs are in rough shape.

    I find that, some places I’ve lived, the yard sales and thrift stores are overpriced. When I heard how cheap Tawra can outfit her kids, I can’t relate! I have seen $4 for one used kids’ shirts or jeans at the Goodwill, and there is a sign stating that they do not reduce prices. Plus, what they sell is often the cheaper brands like Walmart and Target anyway. I’ve gotten a few decent things but mostly I do better buying brand new things on clearance!

    I did very well recently on the hanes website which had clearance items for 1.99 or 2.99 for my kids – nice brand new stuff!

  11. Lea says

    This is about college students, but should be applicable to many in high school too.

    Jill mentioned in her post about how backpacks aren’t really necessary in many cases. For some they certainly aren’t, but if your child is hauling large amounts of books, items etc (necessary ones, not just ‘stuff’), and you have cash you should buy your kids a good quality backpack and have them wear it properly. Their body will thank them and you’ll loose a lot less stuff, especially in college. A couple of comments about the cost and quality of backpacks:

    My folks bought me an LL Bean backpack, navy color, when I was 14 for something like $28. An insane amount at the time, but they felt it was worth it. I am 34, a college professor and have used that backpack for the last 20 years. The bottom just now is starting to wear through. This is after lots of wear and tear and an average load of 50lbs a day, 5 days a week, 40+ weeks a year for 20 years plus several car trips, conferences and even a 4-week mission trip overseas where I lived out of the thing. (I won’t tell you how many times I’ve washed it, spilled on it, etc.) Average cost per year for this backpack is now slightly over $1. My kids won’t ever have anything but LL Bean backpacks, let me tell you!

    While many purchases that we’re asked to make aren’t necessary, sometimes it pays a little more to spend money on a quality item use it forever. I’m amazed at my college students who are trying to tote 5 classes worth of books around in a $10 backpack and then complain and wonder when it breaks 2 weeks before finals!

    I just bought a new LL Bean backpack also in navy (cost is now around $40, depending on the version) and I plan to use it until I retire, since I don’t slide it around on concrete like I did when I was younger. :)

    Sometimes quality it worth it. Please understand, that I’m not saying to pick a backpack over food, heat or rent. What I am saying, is think about the purchase and buy quality. And yes, I do know people who have great $10 backpacks. However, many people end up going through 2,3 or even 4 backpacks (or other things) a year because they buy ‘cheap’ and end up getting poor quality. In the end they spend more. Quality is the name of the game – it really IS worth it!

    Thanks for ‘listening’ to my LONG comment!
    Lea

  12. Melinda says

    I completely agree!

    I work at an elementary school and if a parent is having a problem providing school supplies, I would suggest that the parent go to the school office and inquire whether there happens to be any extra school supplies at the school.

    We always have extra supplies because many charities and individuals donate them to the school because they know many families can’t afford all the necessary supplies.

  13. Kristine says

    At our school, where I am the guidance secretary, the PTSA sponsors a backpack/school supplies drive. I always have plenty of items for those students that can’t get the items they need. We like to make sure that everyone starts out at the same place and has all the necessary tools. So if you are having difficulty with paying for some things, ask the guidance dept at your child’s school if they have these things. We always find what a student needs if we know they need it.

  14. Diane says

    Thank you! I am in total agreement. I stopped buying “school clothes and supplies” years ago. Many things like pens, pencils & paper are used all year round and I just stock up when I see a great sale. I don’t see the need to buy the new fall clothes in August either. Everything in stores at that point if for colder weather and the kids are still wearing shorts and t-shirts when school starts where I live. I don’t buy new clothes unless they have been outgrown or worn out.

  15. Heather says

    OK I had to come back and post again because I wanted to clarify something – I know that the Goodwill does important community work, and I support their cause by donating used items and occasionally shopping there. They help people with disabilities to get jobs, for one thing. I just wanted to point out that I don’t buy a lot of my kids’ clothes there since I can get new for cheaper. :-) I didn’t want to sound uncharitable!

  16. jill says

    It’s ok Heather we knew what you meant. I don’t shop at Goodwill just because I can’t afford to, really that is the truth. Their prices are way to high for me.

    I am so grateful because we have a DAV (disabled vets) store here which is nice and neat, clean and the prices are at least better then most thrift stores although I was there yesterday and was shaking my head at some of their prices now and thinking I may have to go back to nothing but garage sales.

    I haven’t done as many garage sales lately just because it wears me out and my DAV is really close to where I live. We can get some great deals at our garage sales.

    You are right in your first post if you watch places like Wal Mart especially at the end of a season like now you can get some great buys and we do the same thing and buy some things there.

    My daughter in law worked retail for many years and she would come home with so many things from expensive stores for almost nothing by watching the clearance racks. So it doesn’t matter where you get them just as long as you are a wise shopper.

    Jill

  17. susan says

    In our area, the Salvation Army has half price days. The staff usually knows in advance when they will be. I am a teacher. One summer, I bought a whole cart stacked full of professional clothes, kid clothes, coats and some very nice, tag still attached shoes for under $120.00. Call around. There are bargains out there.

    The Thrift shops near the higher priced homes tend to have a better quality selection. Once the stuff is washed, how does anyone tell if it was new or used?

    I try to avoid things that have to be dry cleaned.. a $3 skirt isn’t a bargain if you have to spend $6 to have it dry cleaned– (except for really classy, stuff)

  18. susan says

    We once had a collection of thrifty friends who got together seasonally. We’d bring our favorite crowd pleaser dish for a pot luck and stacks of clothes our kids and we had out grown. We’d potluck at a picnic area. Clothing was stacked on picnic tables by gender and size. There was no prohibition on what you took, but you were encouraged to be kind to each other and share the wealth.

    The rules were:
    You couldn’t bring anything you’d be ashamed for your kid to wear in public.

    Stained, torn, ratty clothes were not allowed.

    Kids were advised that we were sharing with our friends.
    Anything they’d have a fit about sharing, needed not to
    be on the exchange table.

    You could take home your left over clothes, or we had a designated driver to the nearest thrift shop.

    It was a nice, money saving outing.

  19. susan says

    A boys pair of jeans can become cute girl jeans with buttons or trim added to the hem and or pockets.
    Too short girl jeans can get a life extension, the same way. :)

  20. susan says

    As for back packs– I just took my daughters out of the dryer. It was from last year & it looks great.

    25 years ago, I bought a Lands End canvas brief case.
    I even used it as a diaper bag. I have no idea how many times I’ve washed it. It’s looking a little worn now, but it still zips & works fine.

  21. Jess says

    I have a Jansport backpack that I got in 7th grade. I am now 26 years old and teaching at a local high school in my area. I still have the same backpack! I used it all through high school and college. I guess I never really thought about it, I just like it; my mom was uncertain about purchasing it for me, because it was kinda expensive, around $20 I think. But here’s the kicker, the zipper broke right after we bought it, but Jansport has this policy where they guarantee their bags and they will fix them for free. So we mailed it in and sure enough, they repaired it and sent it back within 2 weeks. And we’ve had no incidents since. I’m not sure if they still have the same policy, but it’s worth looking into.

  22. susan says

    Sometimes I take a “field trip” through the more expensive clothing stores to see what the current fashion is and the clothing trends. It’s important to my kids to “be cool”. It’s a teen thing.

    I don’t take my wallet or even a purse. So, I’m not tempted to buy anything. I just want a visual so I can shop effectivly at a lower priced option. Sometimes I discover we already own some of the “cool” pieces, we just hadn’t thought of putting them together.

    One of my daughters wants to be the cool chick and hates going to the thrift shop. She got the same shopping budget as her sister, who loves a bargain.
    The one who looked at the DEPT store and then shopped at the thrift shop got all she needed, plus scarves, jewelery and belts for her funds. She was very stylish.

    Cool Chick Sis got 3 pairs of pants and 2 tops– and had to make do. It was a great lesson in personal economics.

  23. susan says

    As a single parent, sole wage earner we have to plan ahead and together as a family. There isn’t anyone else to pick up the slack.

    On Mondays, my kids get money for the week. (Lunch $ plus $5) They can buy school lunches, or pack from home for free. If they have plans above the $5.00, they’re responsible for the re-allocatoin of their money.

    Sometimes, I ask for a random “audit of their funds”. If they still have money, and can show me in their personal accounting how their money was spent, they get a bonus…it has been an effective way to teach them how to keep up with their spending patterns.

    While the note below will sound like financial tyranny–
    It’s really a budget teaching principal, and it is a good natured exchange. The kids know I am generous if I approve of an action and can afford the generosity.

    All money above lunch $ must be requested in advance through a budget request in a ledger book/ note book, under their name. I have to approve the funds and you have to wait to get them. Sometimes, they have to explain and defend the expense’s rationale. It has cut impulse buying down to almost nothing. It also helps me pre-plan the budget accordinding to spending patterns.

    It’s really cut down waiting to the last minute to plan ahead. If I approve the expense, we talk about it. Typically, the kid hasn’t asked for enough money and it gives us the opportunity to talk about real expenses, VRS anticipated costs. If they write a second budget request, I typically end up being more realistic in the funds allocation. The kid has to report back on how the funds were spent. If not… I can choose not to fund your fun next time.

    We’ve done this a year now. I am really proud of how resourceful the kids are and how well they plan ahead…
    Did I say, they were 12 & 13 when we began this?

  24. Karissa says

    When working in an elememtary school parents would ask, “Do we really need all this stuff?” I could completely relate to them, it is VERY expensive to outfit your kids for school. I NEVER bought all that was on the list, after all what kid needs 24 pencils? I would get them what they needed to start school with, lets face it, they have mouths, if they need something they will tell you. I buy the basics, and always shop thru the year and get deals, when loose leaf is on sale for 19cents, I pick up a few packs–they will always need this and it doesn’t go bad. Dollar Stores are great places for school supplies to…notebooks bought at a Dollar Store is the same as the one bought at Staples etc.

    I only get my kids what they need. We are working on one income and while that income is comfortable, it is not enough to splurge. And this month, we don’t get a paycheck until the end of August…so we are really cutting back. If it isn’t a necessity, it isn’t getting purchased…and it has to be MY call for the need of it! My kids think that they need everything!

    I love hunting for a bargin! To bad we couldn’t bargin on the school fees to, our fees are will be over 300.00 for 2 kids, so much for a free education!

  25. Jodee says

    Every year my kids’ school supplies lists get longer and most of it goes into a communal supply closet. Half-way through the year notes always come home asking parents to donate supplies to replenish it. When I asked the school why parents were providing basic classroom supples like pencils, paper, facial tissue, and hand cleaner they pleaded poverty. “Poverty” even though our district has one of the highest property tax rates in our area and they some how “found” the money to build a multi-million dollar football stadium AND an indoor half-field so the poor boys wouldn’t have to practice outside in the weather. I don’t think impoverished school districts are the problem- I think the problem is really irresponsible allocation of resources and they’ve lost sight of the fact that their job is to educate, not entertain. We haven’t gotten to the point of paying rental fees for our books yet, which I think is absolutely disgraceful, but I’m sure it’s coming.

    Now that I’ve got that off of my chest :), my 13-year-old daughter is doing something that I absolutely love. Each class requires her to have a binder and to label it with her name, the class, teacher, and period, making it unusable the next year. She thought it was terribly wasteful to throw perfectly good binders away, just to go buy new ones. So, she got out a couple of old wallpaper sample books I have in my craft supplies, cut out various patterns and designs that she liked, then glued them onto the binders. She relabeled them around the designs, wrapped clear contact paper around the whole thing, and they are absolutely beautiful. In the last few days I have found some of her friends going through my books to find designs they like and doing the same thing because they liked the idea so much. Even her younger sister and a couple of her friends loved them, so now the older girls are talking about having each girl in their “sister” Brownie troop bring an old binder to their meeting and helping them each make one, both as a fun project and as a lesson on re-using things you already have.

  26. rose says

    jodee, we have done this as well with used binders…
    some of those binders can be costly… but if you buy them at this time (this is at walmart that i am suggesting bc of the prices), you can get binders as cheap as 97 cents each (in case you do have to replace one for whatever the reason)… after the back to school special deals, the prices of these binders were much much higher…

  27. Jodee says

    Rose,
    You are right- binders can be very inexpensive this time of year and it is when I buy all of our school supplies (except backpacks. If needed, I get them 3-4 weeks after school starts), but the problem in this case is really two-fold; both the initial cost of the binders and waste.

    The cost: Their school requires the 1 1/2″ inch binders that Walmart sells for around $1.97 (or more), not the cheaper 1″ binders that go for $.97. Multiply that by eight classes, plus I have to buy three extra for the three classes that change at the semester, and I am spending at least $22 per child just for binders. I have two kids in schools requiring the marked binders, so I’m spending roughly $44 (usually more) per year. I can buy a lot of school supplies (or clothes or groceries) for $44.

    The waste: My daughter is horrified by the idea of throwing perfectly good, usable, things in the trash just to go out and buy more. As of right now, she and 4 of her friends have re-made their binders from last year using scrap material. They have also re-made two binders for two of their younger sisters who liked the ones the older girls made. If you do the math, that is 11 binders each for 5 girls and 2 binders each for two girls, a total of 59 binders that they have avoided throwing in the garbage. That also works out to a total savings of around $120. Not too shabby!

  28. Shannon says

    One trick I’ve learned is not to buy the supplies until after “meet the teacher”. I then ask the teacher personally what she needs my child to have. Usually “the list” is just a blanket list and some teachers don’t use things on the list. This has saved me from buying things that are on “the list” but my kids teachers don’t use.

    My kids new school clothes amount to new socks and new underwear. Jeans also if they grew holes through the summer.

  29. Lori McGarrity says

    At this time of year when you can get a $1.39 70 sheet 1subject notebook for as little as .05, depending on the sales, When my kids got into the older grades their teachers usually requested the very expensive 5 subject notebooks. I still sent my kids with 1 subject cheap ones and just made sure they were responsible with keeping up with old ones as they used them up so that they always had old study notes together which was the point in the teacher requesting these larger books anyway. I get several cases of them. I know that is a lot of books and way more than the kids will go through in a school year but I find I use them myself all the time. I make notes in them, write recipes, etc. I figure even if I waste it by not using the whole book or whatever the case may be, it’s still cheaper than buying note pads, etc. any other time of the year. Plus you will have your supplies for when they go back after Christmas break and request most of these items again but aren’t usually on sale at that time of year. Also I find that drugstores are so competitive anymore and they are all seemingly going to these “discount-savings” cards that you can find supplies dirt cheap. Walgreens in the last couple of weeks have had pens or highlighters or whatever the particular item may be that week for .19 . I love the G2 gel pens which are very expensive usually and got them for .19 so I went back everyday and bought the limit. I also want to comment on the comments about the fact teachers are requesting more for her “stock pile” for use for other kids during the year, 1st of all these may be going to children that are less fortunate and have no money for supplies so the teacher supplies them for the child and 2nd is if she does need more throughout the year she is the one that has to buy these supplies and most schools I know of don’t reimburse teachers anymore for supplies they need in their classes. And also I know my kids usually had broken crayons in no time flat and the teacher would put all the broken ones in a coffee can for the kids to dig into but they will get used up until the child can barely hold it any longer and will have to have new ones. I don’t know about you but I know I always feel better when I know I am able to help somebody else that is less fortunate. Sorry this is so long. Boy do I get long winded.

  30. Lisa says

    I teach in a large school district that probably appears to have ample funds. But, please be aware before you are frustrated/angry with the school for “wasting resources”, there are many costs you don’t see. Bussing, power, heat, water, garbage….just the basics…cost a small fortune and continue to increase year after year. At the same time, state and federal funds are being cut exponentially. The example of the football stadium and field is a great one for really understanding the funding of a school district. That would have been paid for with a special LEVY or BOND. Not a district’s general budget. It would have been specially asked for by the district and VOTED FOR by the community. It has nothing to do with a general operating fund, theoretically provided by state taxpayer dollars. Teachers and schools are totally stuck. We know parents’ budgets are being cut. We know the state budget, therefore the district budget is being cut. In many cases, our own personal budgets are being cut. But, we’re still left with a classroom full of kids to educate. Most of us try to make up the difference out of our own pockets…I believe the average amount a teacher spends out of pocket for classroom materials is somewhere around $500 now. So, when you’re asked to buy the 15th box of Kleenex, please consider that if you don’t, the teacher will have to. Until you’ve watched them, you can’t even imagine how many pencils and tissues a class of kids goes through. (Side note: the cheap pencils often have broken lead all the way up the pencil and it breaks off as the kid sharpens it. I’ve watched kids sharpen away an entire pencil in less than 30 minutes because of that. Don’t be too quick to judge the teacher or the careless kids.)

    • says

      I do understand that and I do not expect the teachers to pay for these thing but.. (you knew it was coming :-) the Wichita school district spends $12,000 to educate 1 student 1 year.
      That is WAY more than plenty of money. I believe most of the money that is being wasted is in the administration and a lot of the so called “needed” upgrades with computer equipment etc.

  31. says

    I may be preaching to the choir but as a retired elementary teacher I can say that the “waste” in the public school system is criminal. If the average parent had a clue as to what is diverted to needless bureaucratic positions they would be livid. The teacher is the last person to receive much of anything and is EXPECTED to provide needed classroom items themselves. That is why the amount of $500 is pretty accurate. Of course, more resourceful teachers scrounge around at yard sales, thrift shops and the like.

    Maybe the downturn in money the states are receiving for schools will shed a light on this problem. Parents are being played for suckers by being asked to supply long lists of materials…..the angle of crying “poverty” has become a scam for many people even in our hard times. Unfortunately we are now faced with families who are becoming less affluent so this problem will increase for those of you with jobs. So sad.

    • says

      I totally agree!! When I found out our schools in Wichita spend $12,000 to educate 1 student 1 one year I was livid!!! Last year, we got nothing but call after call and email after email telling us to call our Representatives and tell them not to cut the schools budget.

      I will from now on respond to all these pleas for more money with the fact above. I am real close to typing up a letter and passing it out to all the parents who are sitting and waiting to pick up kids from school. As I said above, the teachers aren’t the one at fault, it’s the administration. The is NO REASON it should cost that much to educate one kid.

  32. says

    Here are a few suggestions for the long lists and how to bring them under control
    1. Talk to the next year teacher at the end of this year. Explain what you have in the way of left over supplies for your child.
    Explain that 10 other parents you have talked to want to reuse these things and ask that they be taken off the list. Better yet take the 10 other parents in with you.

    2. If the list is generated through the school talk to the principal with a lot more parents in tow.
    Become the vocal majority instead of the silent majority.

    3. If nothing is being done attend a school board meeting and find out why.
    These people are elected by you so they should listen to your concerns and requests all the time not just at election time.

    4. Start a letter writing campaign. flood their emails with your questions.

    Tawra and others who speak or write well offer to go to an after school class and talk to the teachers about living on a dime. Offer solutions and new ideas for less expensive ways of doing things.

    Remember the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

  33. says

    Wow, this is a good read and I agree with you. If there are things in your child’s closet that can still be used again and is still in good shape, why buy a new one? Parent’s don’t have to go broke for things the children can live without….

  34. Sheri says

    The last I heard, in San Diego, half of what it costs to “educate” a child in their district was for administration! Half of the money doesn’t even get used in the classroom!

    In elementary school, oh so long ago… all our supplies were supplied by the school. I remember later, in Junior High and high school, we brought our own supplies. For me, a backpack was a necessity. I either rode my bike to school or walked, but back then, the backpacks were only canvas book bags with shoulder straps! Once I started with the French Horn, the bike and walking were history!

    I sure save a lot of money, like someone else who commented, we homeschool. We always have. Most of my curriculum is used.

    One way to save lots of money on jackets: ask what your school does with their “lost and found”. Some schools dump the lost and found in the trash after it’s been in the pile too long. I have a friend that is a school custodian. He has permission from his school to find new homes for those lost jackets that are headed for the trash. My children have some. Others go to charity.

    I think it might be fun to have a “back-to-school” co-op. Instead of each mom going to every store to get the best deals; decide among friends who will go to what stores for what great deal. Or buy great quantities to split.

    One commenter reminded me of what our church does periodically, we have a “Free Indeed” exchange. A day or more ahead of time, women bring good used clothes and even small appliances to be displayed, kinda’ swap-meet style. You can take anything you like, but it must be for your own family’s use. When it is over, you can take back whatever you brought that did not find a new home, or let the church take it to charity. I found a couple of work shirts for me and a couple of tops for my daughters. When it comes to clothes, we have way more than we need. We need to share.

    I agree with the moms that ration out the supplies throughout the year as needed. There’s a lot less waste that way!

    For those schools that put everything in the pot, they should say ahead of time that it will be that way.

    One binder per class sure seams like a lot of binders!!! I only had one for all of my classes. I had subject dividers that worked for me. Wow! I wouldn’t even want to be carrying around the binders, plus my books.

    Who knew this was such a hot topic!

    I hope all goes well with your school year!

  35. says

    How right you are Tawra. I commend you on your response to parents about what is strictly needed for school. I also have a problem with parents who feel they just have to drop their kids off at the school door because the kid doesn’t want to wait outside for the bus. I rode a bus for all my years in public school. My mother had to work to raise 5 kids still at home. She didn’t have time to drive us to school. I see school busses in my neighborhood who aren’t even half full. What a waist of taxpayer dollars.

  36. says

    I sat down with my son (almost 10) just last night and we had a talk about how he and I will be moving into a new house and how money will be tight for a while. Together, we decided that he would be fine with his school clothes coming from the thrift store this year. We looked at what we already have from his previous school year and figured out we will only have to buy a few things. He also told me that he doesn’t want a big birthday party next month, that just some relatives over for cake and ice cream would be great, because he is getting a new house before his birthday. I am so proud of how he is learning the value of things and what is truly important.

  37. Eva says

    Asking yourself “WHY”? has to be the best advice you have ever given. As a Financial Coach in Detroit, MI this is one of the things I tell those who come to seek financial help. We grow up doing things and learn to do things in a certain way and fear change will hurt us instead of help us! If we just take a moment to question the real reason behind our actions we will not just learn about ourselves but also save ourselves from long term hardship.

  38. says

    Thank you sooo much for such down to Earth practical advice. I try to remember the phrase “based on what?” when I’m asked to buy something or do something that is “required”.
    Outside institutions have really put themselves in our wallets. Who says the kids need a pop and snack after a game, or worse yet, at halftime?? Why do we have to have a birthday party in a restaurant or a kindergarten graduation? It’s definitely time to take a second look and I hope this wonderful post causes those people “in charge” to think as well. Well Done!!!

  39. Brandy says

    My child’s school supply list came in the mail, and they want 2 boxes of crayons and 2 boxes of markers, and 4 glue sticks, and 2 boxes of pencils, and 2 packages of pencil top erasers. I feel that I’m suppose to buy supplies for 2 kids and everytime I try to call the school to find out why they say that the teachers make their supply list and that teacher is not in. I feel like buying 1 of everything & sending and see if they say anything.

  40. Annette says

    On the backpack issue..we belong to a homeschool learning co-op and we find it easier to have a backpack for each child but we NEVER buy them brand new. We always go to Goodwill or Salvation Army for them and love when we hit the 50% off days and get them for .50 lots of families buy their kids new ones each year to go with trends or characters, etc. that is not important to us !! We have found some very expensive ones like Lands End, Eddie Bauer, etc. I also get my book tote there for hauling around the supplies I need to teach a class :)

  41. Barb Y says

    I so agree with you on this! I cannot understand why I should have to supply a classroom full of kids with pencils. My child can have a new pencil when they need one. Why do they need to bring in 4 dozen? Maybe PTA’s should be discussing how to save on these lists- what are necessities and what are ‘good to have’. Keep up the ‘put on your big girl panties and speak up’ attitude. We do not have to be cattle in our world.

  42. Christy S. Lube says

    I had a JanSport backpack that my parents got me in 5th grade, it did fine all the way through high school. AND, when it finally started falling apart, I sent it back to them and got a brand new one, no charge. (Even got a better colour the second time! LOL) So, after several years of grandparents buying Disney backpacks for our daughters that barely lasted the school year, I found JanSport backpacks for them at Ross for less than $20 each. They are in great shape, and I do not anticipate having to buy new ones again for a loooooooooong time (if ever!).

  43. Samantha Saldivar says

    This is a good thing to keep in mind ALL SCHOOL YEAR! the “WHY?” question has kept me from buying all sorts of things that the school sends home little money envelopes for. Including: Yearbooks, school shirts, special school pencil boxes etc. Does your first grader really need a yearbook? If you want their picture, then buy the school picture (and not a huge package!) because it is cheaper than the yearbook that wont ever get looked at again! Now, Highschool, I understand that’s different (but by then your student should be able to decide if they want one and save up the money themselves) School T-shirts? just another waste of money. My daughters school had them buy one for field trips so they could keep up with them, and that I understand but I found out later that had I asked “why” I could have bought an old one from the previous class year for half the cost!

    School is expensive- but it doesnt have to be SUPER expensive- jsut learn to say “no” and ask “why” My second grader has no remorse over not having a year book, and she enjoys explaining to others that her mom makes her a book bag every year out of recycled material. In her words “It helps the planet, and my book bag looks cooler than everyone else”

  44. says

    We homeschool now and spend about $5.00 per year on new school supplies (this does not include our textbooks of course). When our kids went to Christian school we were required to bring 5 boxes of 250 ct tissues per child, 3 packs of paper towels per child, certain brand of dry erase markers for the teacher to use, black board cleaner for the teacher, 12pks of pens and 12pks of pencils (certain brand), 24 pks of CRAYOLA of crayons, markers & colored pencils (all must be NEW and still in the package!). Then there was the certain notebooks that had to have perforated tear out sheets, and certain pocket folders in certain colors. It was just crazy. And the kids were required to have a backpack without wheels. I am not sure what they needed this for since the children were NOT allowed to bring home any school books only papers and worksheets (they might get lost or damaged by the student in the home). Thank God for homeschooling, no hoops to jump through, but lots of learning going on inspite of our $5.00 back to school purchase which consisted of a new pack of Zebra red ink pens (they write well), a pack of Z colored ink pens, the kids love to write with those colored inks, so I say go for it, if it gets them into writing, a compass and protractor! I usually get my stuff at Staples and after turning in my ink cartridges, I get a check in the mail from Staples and that is what I use for my $5 school supply purchase. I am so shocked by what I see on the lists at the store, some are 3 pages long of all the must haves.

  45. says

    Oh, I forgot about the hand sanitizer, we have to each bring in a 1 gallon jugs of it at the start of the year. And also 3 containers of Lysol wipes (not generic ones).
    Moe

  46. Holly McKinney says

    You are exactly right. My daughter and I watch the parents/students especially with their college lists; loading up the carts with new comforters, dorm room “must haves”, electronics, enough shampoo for four kids for the whole year, etc. She has helped students move into their rooms and the parents are leaving with a third of the “must haves” which simply do not fit into a shared dorm room. Leave all the storage containers and color-coordinated items in the stores and your student and your wallet will say thank you!

  47. Jenny says

    It’s all about being resourceful. I have been watching the sales. So far I have gotten 2 10 packs of pencils, 2 pencil boxes, 2 glue sticks, 2 Elmer’s glue, 2 highlighters, 2 packs of index cards, crayons, markers, pencil top erasers, Sharpies and a pack of 500 sheets of copy paper and a pack of photo paper all for less than $2 total. Some I have donated, like the pencils because we already have a gazillion of them but other people can use them. If you watch when the sales are and combine that with coupons and mail in rebates, you can get a lot of things the kids need for school for really cheap.

    Also, for school clothes, I often sort through all of my kids used clothes that they have outgrown and take them to consignment stores and basically trade them out for “new” clothes that will fit them in the coming years.

    We have “tax-free” weekend but I don’t usually shop then unless there are other sales on top of that. Why should I shop to save 7% tax when I can buy them at other times and save up to 75% off of the retail price? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  48. Kelly says

    It’s totally true–we did not use backpacks through school at all. I might have had a book bag at different times, but even if your student needs something, there are plenty of options for bags–even nice reuseable ones aren’t very expensive or are often free!

    One year I caught myself getting anxious because I could not find those “pink pearl” erasers that the teacher had requested. I looked in several stores but they were all out. I finally realized how ridiculous it was. I said we won’t buy them and if you need them, we’ll get one later. The need never even came up!

  49. April says

    I could not agree with you more on this one! We have three children (9th grade, 8th grade, and 5th grade) and school supplies are always a huge deal. Just yesterday I got the lists out and went shopping in our “school closet” where we keep all of our “school supply” items in. Each year at the end of school, TONS of supplies come back home, so I keep them well organized and reuse when I can. For example, on a supply list that had 30 items on it, I truly ONLY need to buy 5 items (simply, because we just do not happen to have those items on hand or they were not reusable from last year). I even amazed myself! Case in point if ALL the supplies are EVEN NEEDED! At the end of last year, one of my children brought back 2 unused, unopened even, school supply items. Guess what? Those two items are getting sent back to school with another child in hopes that maybe this will be the year that they get opened :) I understand the need for supplies, but I do wonder if it is an over-kill on the part of the school / teachers. I think that if they sent a note home each quarter saying….”we need more “X” ” that would make more sense to me and all that expense would be stretched over the course of a average school year.

    The best way to overcome the cost of school supplies is to save all that comes home at the end of the year and reuse when you can.

  50. Kathy says

    They did a study on homeschooling and found that the students scores did not change with the amount of money the parents spent per child. Those parents that spent $500 per child had no better scores than the parents who spent less than $100 per child. The education is not in the money.

  51. Nancy C. Longworth says

    Here! Here! Not only did I walk to school, I walked 7/8 mile to the BUS, carrying books that were HARDBACK, and I went to a college prep school, where we had homework in every subject every night, including weekends! Like you, I used my actual ARMS to hold them! At that time, my school had no gym or PE program (giving us another period to take another academic subject) and my parents did not care because I got so much exercise schlepping those books to school and back every day! And it didn’t warp my character one bit (my children would disagree on this).
    Also, when mine were in school (youngest graduated in June, YEA!!!), I would buy extra supplies at the fall sales for when they ran out during the year. Those extra supplies also make good stocking/Easter basket stuffers. Clothes came from the thrift stores or garage sales and were purchased all year long as needed. I agree with you, no fashion extravaganza in the fall.
    Thanks for your hard work on the newletter! God bless you!

  52. says

    I loved your article. I homeschool, so I can’t relate on that level, but I totally relate on other issues. Years ago my husband and I wanted to get out of debt, so we lived the same principles that I now read about on your site. We’ve been out of debt for years now, but I still enjoy reading about frugal living. By continuing to live under our budget, we have purchased new vehicles, travel internationally, and eat healthy food with no worries. We still don’t eat out and go to movies. We’ve changed our lifestyles and don’t even want to go back. We have other priorities now, and it’s great to be able to afford them. Keep up the great articles, Jill!

  53. Amy says

    I kept thinking we needed to buy my 13 year old son a new backpack this year and finally he said “Mom, I don’t even need a new one, this old one is fine”. I just assumed he would want a new one because he is particular about his appearance. He likes the old one even with a few marks on it. Go figure, he is the one helping me save and he doesn’t even know it.

  54. Debbie says

    Thank you! It amazes me (as a school teacher) the ‘new’ things kids come to school with each new year. I have always been a kind of tight-wad and with my own children we have ‘sharpened’ crayons (from the year before), ‘sharpened’ colored pencils, ‘used’ a used eraser, and ‘oh my’ we used the same backpack for several years! LOL
    Hope everyone has a great school year!

  55. Cheryl says

    “Back To School” clothes are a marketing ploy. Most of the clothes advertised are actually cold weather clothes so are not really “back to school” because here in the Midwest kids start back to school the end of August and the first 6 weeks of school are usually quite warm. I buy my Granddaughters school supplies because I have the time to shop at several different stores , all within about 2 miles of each other so I don’t waste gas. She does use all the things the teacher requests.

  56. Karen says

    Thank you. I learned years ago to ask “Do I really need this?” As for school clothes, I volunteer at our churches clothes pantry, and we can’t even put out all the clothes that continue to be donated for lack of space. Nearly fifty people came in today and walked out with cute, barely touched clothing for their children. Some donated clothes still have the tags!

  57. Joan says

    How about trading back packs with another student – perhaps even one from another school so there is no chance anyone would know. After 2 weeks -they all look used!

    However – there is something really wonderful about starting school with some new stuff – new notebooks are wonderful! Buy more than you think you will ever need this year while they are on sale – and have plenty for later in the year when they cost 4 times as much.

    Also – giving school age children – maybe 3rd grade and up – a school supply budget (what you can really afford) and letting them make the choices of what they want new and what they can get by with from home is a great learning experience.

  58. Penny says

    I so AGREE with your comments….I also went to school w/o a back pack and carried all my stuff….The schools have supplies…they are in the school budget, yes! teachers do buy “things” for their classroom on their on thin dime…but to buy all what is being asked for is not necessary in the begining of the yr…During the school yr when your in contact with teachers ask them if they need any thing then see if your budget can handle something.I hope when having to send the kids back to school we all don’t buy school clothes just so the other kids can show off…we need to teach the kids our $$$$ are tight and heat * food * are the essentials more important than new school clothes…

  59. says

    My kids ride the school bus, so backpacks are necessities. But they don’t get a new one when there’s life left in the old one. The same goes for uniforms. When worn out or outgrown, these are replaced. For the most part, their school has been pretty reasonable about supply lists, and what is requested is mostly consumed by the end of the school year (scissors, rulers and ring binders can often be carried over).

  60. says

    I’ll add: those half-bottles of glue, short pencils and incomplete sets of crayons that come home in June are great to keep in the family’s general supply drawer for homework time or craft time.

  61. Jodee says

    I select school supplies that I know are absolutely necessary and ask teachers about the rest after school starts. Our local school district makes a blanket list for each grade level and some teachers don’t use a lot of the supplies and are just as glad that they don’t have to find a place to store them. I also find out what supplies they need or use a lot of (dry erase markers, tissue, sanitizer, etc)and buy extra when I can get them cheaply, then I put them together in a basket for a Christmas gift.

    As for backpacks, my soon-to-be-10th-grader asked for a new one this year. She has been using her current backpack since she started 7th grade, one that I bought on clearance for $3. It has been used for school, camp, sleepovers, trips to the pool and beach, vacations, and carefully washed many times. She took care of it because she knew I wouldn’t run out and buy her another one.

    I think the real key is teaching our kids to take care of what they have and get out of the “It’s back-to-school time, so I’ve got to buy stuff” mentality

  62. Quaint Homesteader says

    My son has the bad habit of using up his pencil erasers very quickly, so one year, instead of buying new pencils, I just bought a box of erasers, the kind that you stick on the end of the pencil. Also, I know my son has a reward program at school for good behavior, and with this program he can buy things. Last June he spent all his reward token on new school supplies, so he did the shopping for me! I find lots of folders and things on clearance, and I keep a small stock of supplies on hand. My son is 9 yo, and I’ve already taught him that he doesn’t need the latest folder or book bag with the latest movie character, so he doesn’t even ask for that stuff. About clothing: I get lots of hand me downs from several sources, and it’s very easy to end up with way too many clothes and an over flowing dresser and laundry room, so this year, instead of new or even new used clothes, we are purging out anything that he doesn’t like, is stained, or has holes. That leaves a higher concentration of newer looking clothes to pick from, and less laundry to do for me!

  63. Angela Bethea says

    I agree wholeheartedly. Just ask. My husband (after 30 years) has finally realized that even he can do it. It always used to embarrass him when I would question a check-out person or an office or a billing statement. He would have rather just paid whatever and not rock anybodies boat. I say rock the boat!!!!! My last dr. appointment only served to prove my point. We recently moved to a new city and I needed to have my old prescriptions refilled, so I went to the office, finally saw the dr. and he agreed to refill my rxs. Then without asking me, he got up to leave the room and informed me that his nurse would begin my series of bloodwork???????? What bloodwork???????? Why?????????? He said “that’s what we do with any new patient”. Not this one you don’t!!! I explained to him that I have no insurance and no money to pay for any tests. I only needed my meds refilled. I also explained that once we get insurance, I will have no problem with this and will return, but today I cannot pay for anything other than the visit. Well, needless to say, he wasn’t pleased, but he figured out that he really wasn’t going to bully me into taking some worthless tests that I didn’t need at the time “just because that’s what “they” do”. Got my refills and left. Upon getting my receipt, I noticed a “no insurance” write off. My total bill (according to their receipt) would have been over 200.00!!!!!!!! I paid 57.00. This is the exact reason people have such trouble getting insurance and good drs. Don’t folks realize that this dr. charges outrageous fees because he is billing insurance (he thinks that doesn’t hurt “people”, a big company is picking up the tab. Wrong………people pay for their insurance from their paycheck or their employer pays it for them, but believe me, it still comes out of their paycheck. Insurance and the companies who participate in insurance programs are tired of this abuse. The drs. know they are overcharging, the company knows they are being overcharged and guess who suffers. The patient. He can no longer afford quality healthcare on his own without insurance and insurance costs too much to get. He can either take home his check for the essentials for his family, or he can have insurance. What do you think he is going to do? I’m sure I haven’t explained my feelings very well, but this is a subject I become passionate about as right now, we are among those who have no insurance and the drs. fees come directly out of my pocket. People need to be aware of these kinds of things that companies and drs. think won’t hurt anyone. For goodness sake, Just Ask!!!!!!!
    Thank you so much for your writings, they always inspire me and make me feel like I’m not the only one facing some of the things this economy has created. To know that others have experienced it and lived to tell about it helps. With sincere admiration!!!! Angela Bethea

  64. Barbara says

    I taught first grade for 32 years. Yes, teachers ask for things for the whole class because they are so limited and end up spending their own money. I would advise anyone who can’t purchase the entire list to buy the personal supplies that will be kept in the child’s desk to use (I think most kindergarten classes put all stuff together), but most children will need the crayons, glue, scissors, pencils, notebook paper, notebooks, and folders. I would hold off on the other stuff (like kleenex, copy paper, etc.) if money is tight for you. One important thing is to train your child to take care of their supplies. Some children can use a box of crayons all year, while others have no crayons left after a week because they drop them on the floor where they get stepped on or kicked away. If you need to buy folders, plastic folders, while more expensive, last MUCH longer and don’t tear up when wet. Teach your child to close their glue and wipe off the top with a scrap of paper so that their glue will last all year. Fiskars scissors work much better than cheaper ones. Label things with your child’s name. If your child likes to draw, encourage them to draw on the back of old classwork papers instead of using new pages from a notebook or tablet. Show them how to use a pencil sharpener so that they don’t grind their entire pencil up. By the way, all pencils are not created equally. Try sharpening them yourself first. Those little pencil topper erasers don’t last long (the top comes off) and easily get lost. Often, there is no room in the locker or desk for a big binder, so check first before you buy.

  65. Sonia says

    While I admire our teachers for taking on the challenge of teaching some 25+ students, I really think we need to get back to the basics. I have an 8th grader (whom wears a size 11 shoe gulp!!!) and a 5th grader. I have never ever heard of schools having so many days off! If it’s the budget cuts, then I believe it’s time to teach our children in school to be more serious on having to budget money for things. And fundraising is a great way to do it…although they need to find fund raisers that actually help with the budgetting process. Just my two bits worth here. :)

  66. says

    I was reading this and so glad I was not the only one who feels this way about people who go spend money on things that are not needed and complain about not having money. I think to myself WHAT? Wow you got this one 100% great job! Hugs, Bobbi Jo

  67. nona says

    The school that I work at has had policy in effect since it was built 50+ years ago. Each grade has a list of supplies that they need so you may go and buy what you need or what you can afford. We have always had parents that buy “extra” stuff for the kids. When they bring in their supplies, they put them in a pile on the floor. When the teacher is ready in a day or two, she along with all of the students will sort them out into bins, that way we all “share everything.” This also doesn’t put any pressure on the child that couldn’t afford to. We are also lucky enough to live in a community that has several back to school rallies. They will give each child that comes whatever they need from a backpack to pencils. This also helps to. Also as an employee, we can volunteer to either purchase supplies or some clothing to a child in need. This is all done without the child knowing where or whom the items came from. We are a very giving community and school, we make sure all of our kids needs are met everyday when they come through our doors…..I am very proud to work there and be a Dixie Dolphin…..Nona….Lexington, KY

  68. Judith says

    Somethings I question are the new “Demands” of the schools for supplies that USED to be their responsibility. Like soap, paper towels, tissues, paper, (not your personal notebook paper but classroom paper) hand sanitizer etc. I am sure there are more that I have forgotten but starting in Sept our 4 year old will be starting K and we will be swamped. Last eve we went to Wally World for something else and discovered that they were putting out very cheap school stuff–.20 one subject notebooks, $1.47 Sharpie Packs. .47 cent crayon boxes etc. We got glue sticks—didn’t school used to HAVE glue for all?—pencils, pencil case, white board, markers—a whole bunch of stuff for Lil Miss and Grandma since I use a lot of this stuff and stock up now. My daughter and I paused at the Trapper Keepers and were talking about how handy they were until our rural teensy school BANNED them because they were “WEAPONS”. Ditto coats and jackets!

    Now I don’t know about your school but ours hasn’t had HOT WATER in the rest rooms since the FIRST oil crisis in the 1970′s. No I am NOT making this up. And did you know —– in New York there is NO requirement to have HEAT in a school? I am kinda surprised that our schools haven’t followed the Japanese model and made the kids clean the place—something I think (for normal classroom cleaning) would be a GOOD idea. But I somehow doubt that the janitors are forced to bring their OWN rags and brooms. And tell me—-why do the janitors at our schools—a very important job, don’t mistake my intent here—make MORE than the beginning and middle range of TEACHERS?????? Right there in a nutshell is the problem—if you don’t VALUE someone enough to PAY
    for them to do work you feel free to make them your sacrificial lambs.

    We wonder—what has happened to the SCHOOL TAXES we paid????How come I—and my kids, even poorer than I—have to pay for stuff that used to be paid for and bought in bulk at a discount by the schools? Why can’t school districts get together and buy this stuff???? I have a VERY hard time paying my taxes—the equivilent of a MONTHS PLUS salary. And I am sure that my taxes are NEVER going down! (Another reason we are looking to move!)

    As to “School clothes”–I have never had the money to take 3 kids shopping for whole new outfits. I would save for one set of versatile clothing and shoes for each. And all summer and Fall we would go to yard sales, thrift shops and church sales to find nice fashionable things to wear. And remember the days when you came home from school and your Mom made you GET CHANGED into your PLAY CLOTHES????? I do and so so my (grown) kids! Where we live there are huge variations in temperatures so you need to have several different choices for seasonal wear.

    That means we also have to have hoodies, jackets, rain gear, and light weight and heavy weight winter coats. This is actually how I got into the business I now run on ebay, selling used sportswear and outerwear. And again all summer long I stash this stuff for when people are shopping for winter and ski items.

    So there are ways to do this and not go broke. Staples and other places like that usually have big sales on school stuff but Tawra is absolutely CORRECT in asking WHY the schools seem to be so needy! Maybe parents need to get together and demand these answers and also why do parents need to keep replacing these things over again EVERY YEAR. Wouldn’t YOU rather see a small add-on to your taxes to supply the CLASSROOMS with this stuff?

    And we KNOW paper is expensive—we have ALREADY paid for the computers in the schools. Buy into an UPDATED on-line series of lessons on History–as soon as a book is published it is out of date; much easier to add or correct on line. Math hasn’t changed much just the ridiculous “Theory of the Month” systems of teaching it. And most kids have access to a lap top or something at home; if they DON’T isn’t it cheaper in the long run to provide ones for the kids who don’t have ‘em than to keep replacing books every few years? At private schools EVERY kid gets a laptop. And in the REAL world every kid will NEED these skills. Why are we still back in the dark ages here????

    And for Pete’s sake if there are any teachers out there—get those shopping lists done EARLY. The stores have sales on NOW not the day AFTER school starts. And don’t get mad at a parent who cannot afford the whole list at once. You don’t know those peoples stories and they really may NOT be able to run off to the store that instant and plunk down $$$—many more $$$ than they COULD have if they had the lists NOW.

    Oh—and while we are discussing this—-re: parent teacher nights. If I have THREE kids I CANNOT possibly attend THREE parent teacher conferences when you only make room for TWO. Know what I was told? MAKE YOUR HUSBAND COME! Well all fine n good if I HAVE one of them or he is not working or out of town or in a uniform in IRaq. Do the math!

  69. Judith says

    WOW!!!! I couldn’t get the prior comments to load and didn’t know that so many other Moms had the SAME ideas!!!!!!

    A few more comments now that I see the “trend” here:
    Goodwill Stores are now “Target Lite”. They buy MOST of the non-donated items from Target and re-label them; look and you can still see the Target label on ‘em. HOWEVER sometimes they are actually selling the items for MORE than Target had listed on their tags!!!! And the “good” stuff that comes into the Goodwill and the Salvation Army? Is now sold via AUCTIONS on line thus generating $$$ for the organizations (okay for them) but leaving the Walmart and other lower quality brands to be sold at HIGHER retail prices than the actual stores sometimes sell them for. I don’t think a used $5 T-shirt from Walmart that sold there for $6 is any BARGAIN. And as for Goodwill “helping” the handicapped—well I AM handicapped. And I have ASKED at serveral Goodwill stores in several states about this. And the answer I have gotten is that the GOodwill STORES exist to help the COUNTER HELP and the STOCK HELP have jobs. Now in my area—and I regulary shop at GW in NY, Vermont and Mass, the “help” is NOT handicapped. The merchandise has been “cherry picked” and I rarely even find a decent T-shirt anymore much less something under $5 or $10.

    Salvation Army stores are somewhat better. Some are “cherry picking” and selling the “good” items at on-line auctions–many for enourmous shipping costs AND a per-item FEE to the buyer! The prices have gone way up and the half price sales—which are still a GREAT idea BTW—have often been “cherry picked” as well—items are grabbed and the tags CHANGED to the NON SALE COLOUR of the day. See a pair of nice shoes? See the NON SALE PRICE TAG? Right next to a pair of so/so shoes you saw LAST WEEK with the different colour tag? Hmmmmm….Again this is at least three states worth of these stores. If you are lucky you will get a sales person to tell you what colour tag is going on sale. Some sales people tho will tell you they have NO IDEA what colour is going on sale but this is bogus. This has gotten so annoying around here that when it is half price day the rear areas and dressing room of the stores are littered with the higher price tags as people swap ‘em out—ironicaly leaving the LESSER price things that they are stealing the price tags from to be RELABELED with the HIGHER price “incoming item price” if some one decided that they WANT that item.

    So think about this BEFORE you shop AND before you donate. I have a “soft spot” in my heart for thrift shops–again I make the rounds—and the ones attached to either a church or some form of community fund raiser are much more likely to not be cherry picked and to have a reasonable price list and also to let you know where the money they raise is GOING TO. We also visit a local clothing GIVE AWAY where people donate thru the year and then in the Fall the organizers use a local private school gym and FILL it with clothes shoes etc. IT happens to be on the SAME day as a two day Church clothing event and draws a LOT of people.

    I asked if it was OK for us to take items at the end of the sale to use for re-sale on my personal ebay account (that I use to help pay my taxes) and the organizer was fine with that since it meant less for them to find a new home for. I do know that some places have an “opinion”—-or at least some staff members have the opinion—that it is NOT OK for some one to BUY an item from their venue and then re-sell it. When it is a retail shop I really can’t believe that they can “dictate” what you do with an item after you PAY for it. And if they bought something and it didn’t fit or was the wrong colour—is there a “law” that says they MUST re-donate it or not buy it “just in case”? I know people who buy thrift store clothing to make into quilts etc to sell—should they STOP doing that or is it OK because they are “crafty” first? What if you buy a coat at a thrift store and your kid outgrows it—can you give it to a friend or do you—using this logic—have to re-donate it?

    Brands that wear forever–LL Bean. Lands End. JansSport. EMS. Marmot (spendy!) Levi’s. Salomon boots. Patagonia. Childrens Place. Gymboree. Gap but not Old Navy. Columbia. Burton. Bogner. Orvis. Thom Mcan. I do the same as one of your readers does—I “window shop” to find the cost of the brands and the trendy looks.

    Brands that DON’T hold up—Walmart. Target. Most store brands— consignment shops usually will NOT accept things from these brands; you can ask for a list from them so you can tell what will last. Shoes are worth buying if they are more or less NEW and show no sole wear so your feet don’t try to accomodate the old owners foot pattern. LL Bean will allegedly replace MOST shoes if they wear out before the kid outgrows them and of course they run a repair service for their Hunting Shoes.

    Of course I am partial to ebay and you can find AMAZING deals there as long as you know what size etc you need. Sellers are happy to answer questions but they CANNOT know if a certain item will fit YOUR ten year old! Take ‘em to a store and try similar brands on first. Or have ‘em try on their friends items. Even WITH shipping—reasonable shipping which you can check at the USPS web site—-the items are usually less than HALF the price of a NEW item; sometimes way less than that.

    If you see something you like check the sellers “Other ITems” list to see if they are selling more things you like–most will combine shipping so you can save more.

    Oh and if some one here would like a bee-you–tee-ful raspberry JanSport backpack—or a gorgeous pair of leather back to school kids riding type boots—or jackets for all ages—-let me know!!!!!!

  70. Jane says

    We figured out a few years ago, we didn’t need to buy everything each year. I had her drag out her previous years stuff and we would go through what was still usable. I would buy new folders, because they were always trashed, but I only paid like .05 cents each. They weren’t fancy ones, with cute designs, just plain colored and simple…..I got really irritated because they would have the kids “pool” some of their supplies like crayons and markers, and then we never got anything back. This just allows those people who refuse to buy things (yes there are some that abuse this, I’ve seen it) get themselves off the hook to buying supplies! I never spent more that 10 bucks on basics. You can get sucked in to the extra crap–the locker mirrors, fancy binders. I remember 2 years in a row buying prang watercolors. Both years she brought them home and they had never been used! That’s when I started changing my ways!! :D

  71. pam says

    You can get backpacks for free if you watch the sales there is usually rebates and supplies really cheap if you watch sales. I am a teacher and I purchase the cheap stuff for my kids as well as for my students when they need them. There is also the dollar store so there is no need to spend lots of money. My kids are learning fast how to get bargins, since money is tight.

  72. Kelley says

    I’m a teacher and I never looked negatively at a parent that asks me how they can cut their list. First, many schools have or know of resources for this exact purpose. Call the school office and ask. Our local church helps with this as well. If that’s not an option by all means ask the teacher. So many times when I’ve been asked this question I have been able to help the family. Maybe the list can be cut or divided throughout the school year. For instance, those requests for kleenex are a needed item, but it is nice to get a box in January. That’s an easy way to stretch out the cost, but still purchase something you know will be used.
    Ask, you never know what the school policies are, and what the teacher might say!

  73. says

    Your students may not “need” everything on the list, but the back to school sales are the best time to get basics. Notebook paper is ALWAYS needed, $.10 now is better than $1.59 later. Stock up and save on the basics.

  74. Tracy says

    I am sorry you had that experience with that dentist. As a Dental Hygienist with 22 years of experience I can confidently say I have never asked a patient for an x-ray unless it was absolutely needed to diagnose something the patient was complaining about.

    If you want to talk about saving money, I will relate this story. I had a patient refuse all x-rays for 4 years. Finally she came in complaining of a toothache. The decay was extensive, so she needed a crown and root canal to save the tooth. Cost=$2200.00

    The cost of a yearly checkup set of x-rays plus a simple filling to fix the decay if it had been found in the early stages=$650.00

    You can do the math.

  75. Karen says

    I give my children an allowance and they are expected to purchase their school supplies out of this and everything else they need throughout the year, including “pizza days”, field trips, replacement supplies and etc.

    I kept the pre-order supply lists from June and they’re going to see how much less money they can actually spend.

    That being said, it’s a great time of year to stock up on craft supplies and notebook paper.

    The thing that gets me is all the extra fees schools charge in September! This fee, that fee, and all those PAC fundraisers garbage products and ridiculous coupon books that I refuse to buy because I don’t need or want them!!!

  76. lorene palmer says

    alot of teachers have you buy…enough for the kids that won’t have any!!! in pre-k one year my youngest had to have 150 manilla folders….now 24 kids buying 150 folders…that was a whole box …the paper they put it all together and hand out so much to each child ..then when they come home with homework you’re suppossed to have paper glue crayons sissors at home too..beats me but that is the way they do it 48 pencils! come on!

  77. Janine says

    I am so thankful our kids school sends out a required list (which is small) and a wish list so that I know what things really are optional. The teachers also put the wish list in their monthly newsletters so I can pick up things here and there all year long, not just at the beginning of the school year. I just realized yesterday this is the first year I will only have to buy the basic supplies and shoes for my kids & the shoes are only b/c the tread is gone!

  78. Jaime says

    I do like the idea of getting a school supply list ahead of time. I remember when I was in school we never got a list. The teacher would tell you during the first week of school what they wanted you to have. I never liked that because what if you had already bought your basic school supplies and couldn’t afford the teacher’s “special requests”? I had that happen to me. The teacher didn’t like my binder and wanted my mother to buy the kind that she requested. We had to make another shopping trip on the weekend when relatives could drive us. My mother did not have a car or a driver’s license. This was very annoying. At least now the schools are trying to give you a head start and allow you to get supplies on sale during the summer instead of having to do a mad dash to the stores to get the “special request” items while also fighting off all the other parents who are trying to buy the exact same items for their teacher’s “special requests”.
    But I also agree, don’t go overboard buying every little item on the list. Do ask the teachers what your child will really need. Do gather up all school supplies at the end of the school year and see what can be re-used for the next school year and what you might want to keep just for arts & crafts projects at home. Remember, re-using last year’s items will reduce this year’s supply bill.

  79. Heather says

    One of the many joys of homeschooling…my children dont even know about the “back to school” hype. they get new clothes when they are needed, I buy all our supplies like crayons,paper ect. when they go on sale in August and keep them stored for when they are needed. they do not have to have name brand or new. they wear and use what they like and none of us can understand the comments we hear this time of year in the stores from parents to their children about school starting so they can get rid of them… how sad. I always want to cry when I hear these comments.

  80. Melinda says

    From a teacher/parent/frugal shopper’s point of view – for middle school age and up, send your kids to school with a pencil, folder and a notebook the first day. Each teacher will tell students on the first day what they ‘really’ need. In our building several of the core subject instructors (math/science/soc.studies/language) request specific types of binders for their courses. I hate telling my students that they have to take the big, bulky ‘trapper keeper’ style binders home and leave them there. They take up too much room in the lockers and they aren’t what the instructors requested. At the end of the year, many of these teachers ask students to ‘donate to the cause’ by leaving their gently used binders behind for the next class of students who may not be able to afford new. In fact, one of the science instructors charges $0.25 a piece for these binders (free for kids in need) to help pay for food for the fish/animals kept in the room.

  81. Becky says

    Every year our daughter gets carte blanche on whatever folders/dividers/notebooks/ she needs in order to stay organized. She buys different sets that match for each class. She is now 16 years old and was accepted to an ivy for a summer program. No we don’t vacation/eat out/have a fancy tv or other electronics but we splurge on whatever she needs for her education figuring it will pay us back someday.

  82. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    I try to buy for life-I’ve been using the same backpack since 1985. I don’t let others, holiday, etc dictate what I need or need to do whether that be school supplies, bloood tetsts, clothing or xrays. People make suggestions that they do because it benefits the greatest number of people. It’s not like the are going to expel your child because he doesn’t have an eraser. As for goodwill auctions, I believe they have a responsibility of trust to make the most money to benefit the people they are supposed to serve and check every day for deals.

  83. Brenda says

    I’m with several other people on this one. My kids reuse their backpacks and school supplies until they are used up. My oldest son (who will be in 7th grade this year) is still carrying the same bag he’s had since kindergarten. While several may think this is odd, I did spend the money and bought him a good quality pack that I knew would last for years. We didn’t go with cartoon characters or anything like that. Just plain black. He laughs and says his goal is to now make it thru graduation with his “famous” bag. I did have to patch 1 hole in it last year, but I think we’re in for the long haul! I will give my kids’ school a big huzzah! because they give us a basic list (notebook paper, binder, pencils, black pen, red pen & a box of klenex)before school starts and if something is needed later, then they send a note home. As for buying new clothes, I shop all summer at yard sales and second hand stores and before school starts we clean out dressers of what fits and sort what can still be used for school clothes and what is now play clothes then add the “new” items from my bargain hunts.

  84. Nancy says

    “Cute” supplies are designed to make the owner feel good and the rest of the kids feel badly. If you have the money for that, you have the money to purchase, instead, plain supplies for your own kids and also for some children in need. I am a 2nd grade teacher, and I can tell you most teachers prefer students to have very plain, but marked (with names) supplies. Those result in much less grief when something gets lost or stolen.

    Plain yellow pencils usually work better than the fancy ones, and nobody wants to spend teaching time finding out who took the “cool” pencil. A plain folder for 15 cents works just as well, and is easier to read the name on, than a fancy folder for $2. Buy backpacks on sale and replace when they wear out instead of every school year. A plain (not geared to any age) lunch bucket should last for years.

    I am a firm beiever in reduce, reycyle, and re-use. My own kids got one new outfit (every kid deserves something new) for the beginning of school, for Christmas, and for their birthdays. Other than that, we all wear thrift store/rummage sale clothes. I tell my students I got my skirt (or whatever)for $3. Then my students brag about how they are wearing recycled clothing instead of being embarrassed by it. It is much better to boast about saving the earth than having the best new toy or outfit because mom and dad are loaded or have a credit card racked up over the limit!

  85. Melanie says

    For years, I, too have been swimming upstream on this. I buy some very nice backpacks at garage sales. Last year my teenage daughter wanted something new. I told her she could have the pick of 4 that were in the basement and that I was not spending money on “new,” since those were in new condition and perfectly suitable. She made a couple trips looking, then came home and picked one out. I try to keep some on hand, so that if zippers break or pockets tear, the kids can get another one.

    Another thing I do is save the packs of crayons, erasers, markers, whatever they come home with at the end of the year. At the start of the school year, I send new with them. In Jan., when the crayons are broken/used up, markers are dried up and the erasers need replaced, I send something with them from the end of year stuff. Nobody will notice if they have a worn looking box of crayons mid-year, and they suit the purpose! And for the record, it’s usually the older kids who protest, but I tell them to get over their vanity until they can pay for it!

  86. Jeanne T. says

    Jane, I agree with you. I had posted some comments the other day (can’t find them now) about this “pooling” of school supplies. I understand we should teach children to share, but I don’t believe in confiscating what someone else has paid for. My husband’s daughter has told us exactly what you said about people not paying for items – even when they could afford to do so. They feel entitled to get something for free, even if they can pay for it themselves. That is wrong.

    While the intentions are good (“help the poor”), it teaches the wrong lessons. Children should be taught the joy of sharing voluntarily, but I believe it is wrong to take something from them by force, especially if they might have paid for it out of their own allowance. It only breeds resentment.

    Furthermore, some of these “poor” are not really so poor. Besides, there are dollar stores where you can buy many basic school supplies for very little money. Why should I enable this?

    I remember the excitement of going back to school because I got new school supplies, which belonged to ME. Even children understand the concept of ownership and private property.

    I’m sorry, but this just rubs me the wrong way. It is wrong on so many levels. Charity by its very nature is voluntary, not forced.

    • says

      I’m right there with you Jeanne! It drives me bonkers that I pay for our kids supplies (over $200 now) and then they have to “share”. I guess growing up with nothing and mom still being able to provide school supplies for us has scarred me for life. If she can do it on $500 raising 2 kids then the least these other people can do is get rid of the expensive cell phone and pay for it themselves!

  87. Pamela Shields says

    You are so right on this subject. I raised 7 children on a limited budget & I agree that many things we are told we “have to have” are wants & not needs. My youngest son is in college now so this wasn’t 30 years ago just so you know that. As to the idea of buying new clothes to start school, sometimes you can save money on clothes then because that’s when they go on sale – if they are needed. I did buy new shoes before school started each year because the old ones were usually shot by the end of summer & sizes change but clothes were on a needed basis. One thing we always looked at was really how many of a thing you needed – no child needs 30 pairs of socks or 10 pair of jeans at a time. They grow too fast & storage is a problem. And of course we handed things down to younger, smaller children all the time too. Things are not what makes a child happy anyway.

  88. Ann D says

    This may be totally unrelated, but I was just remembering my Grandmother (who was a young mother when the depression started) always had a box of crayons when we came to visit. It was an old greeting card box that she kept in exactly the same place, along with a couple of coloring books (the same ones for years). Fast forward a generation or two. In spite of the fact that I homeschooled for years, I went out and purchased a brand new box of crayons for the children every year. I now have a huge shoe box full of leftover crayons. What a waste.

    I was getting ready to do some back to school shopping but decided to clean and organize things first. Guess what? I don’t need anything. I have pens, pencils, markers, paper, notebooks, folders, binders, glue, and glue sticks, labels, tabbed dividers, pencil boxes, several pairs of scissors, the aforementioned crayons.

    I have plastic organizing tubs in several sizes that were just waiting to be put into use.

    Sometimes staying home and organizing is the best saving strategy of all.

    Ann

  89. Jenni Johnson says

    I hate to play the devils advocate , but I am jealous of not having the options above. We live in a town called Peachtree City, in Ga. If our children do not have the supply list generated by each and every different teacher, well they actually get an F and it counts on there report card. I am hoping the twelve dollar scientific calculator for my son entering ninth grade is good enough, because the one they want is a hundred dollars or more. That was my proud savings, and believe me I am crossing my fingers. Not to mention having to buy agendas and locker fees and then locks and more fees. All Mandatory, by the way. I long for the days of balancing books with two hands and feeling special with one new outfit, one binder and and new paper. However, those days are long gone. School will be charging fees for this or that all year, and if I send our kids to school without something trendy, people here will snub there nose at you. Sorry to be the downer, but I hope moving away next year will bring me closer to saving a dime. I certainly will need saving one after school starts this Monday.

  90. says

    I actually think this article is great! I don’t have any kids…but I watch my brothers and especially my sister buy new backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes, etc. every school year.

    I never understood why the same backpack couldn’t be used again..or the same lunch box for that matter.

    I remember when I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. We used brown lunch bags. We ate sandwiches every day. We definitely used the same backpack and wore the same clothes as long as we didn’t gain weight or have a growth spurt.

    I have been on my own since I was 17 and still keep alot of these things in practice. I keep the same clothes forever, the same purse forever and take the same lunch box to work everyday.

    Kids today are too spoiled!

  91. Jackie says

    I read the article on school supplies and I just thought to myself that it is getting out of hand. I picked up a school supplies list for one of the Junior high schools in our area and there were over $110 worth of fees for the diffrent subjects. Then they had to provide the materials for the class. The same was for the elementary school children. They did not have the class fee but the thing that got me was that they were expecting children to buy the the things that you copy files onto instead of the hard drive. You can see I don’t have one because I can’t remember the name. What ever happened to a box of CD’s that they can save their materials on. There was also napkins, paper plates, lunch bags, and the list went on and on and covered 2 pages. One of the main items was a New (not their last years) back back they wanted them to buy NEW. The 2 counties that encompase the area where I live are very low income. 95% of the people in our town are grandparents or single parent families raising the children. Grandparetns sure don’t have the money to buy all that garbage.
    I remember when we first moved to the community they asked people to buy suppleis for the families that could not afford them. I bought a really pretty bag (no backback because it was for a child in 1st or second grade.) I bought the less expensive materials because I was able to buy a bit more. When it was given to the child the MOTHER had a fit. I had not bought name brand items. I could not afford name brand for my own children much less another child. The mother threw it at my feat and said keep it. Well their was another mother there who made the comment under her breath (My daughter would love that). I took it to the little girl and asked it she wanted it and she was estatic. The mother said they couldn’t take it because they made too much for the give away. I told her the mother of the child who it was for did not want it and it was mine to do with as I wanted. We met in another part of town and I gave it to them. I found out the first mother when she found she could not get another bag went looking for it. It was gone. I have not bought items to go into the bags for children who’s parents can’t afford them since then. If they cant’ take what is given them with thanksgiving then they don’t deserve them. I find a family I know will be thankful and then give them what I can afford. I have never been disapointed again.
    I’m 60 years old soon to be 61 and we never had this amount of unneeded materials in the school lists given me for my children.

  92. VegGal says

    My mom always had a drawer of school supplies. At the end of a school year we’d put all our pens, penciles, notebooks, erasers, folders, white-out, etc. into the drawer and at the start of the school year we’d sort through and find what we needed. Penciles and pens espically b/c really you don’t need a brand new pack each year, but notebooks if there were only a few pages with notes we’d just rip those pages out and start new. There were few times that we bought new items between the three kids. I remember begging my mom one year for the fancy decorated folders, so she agreed that I could have 2 and the rest were the cheep solid color. She bought me a trapper keeper, but the years after I stopped using it I still used the folders with 3-hole’s b/c they were still in good condition. I remember finding out when I was older that other familes didn’t do this and I though that was crazy. I espically couldn’t believe that they didn’t save their mostly unused pencils.

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