Wednesday, August 11, 2010

600 Dollars for School Shopping? I Don't Believe It!

One pack of crayons, on pack of colored pencils, one ream of white copy paper, glue, a box of tissue, and a back pack. This was the list of required school supplies for my son. Yes he's in Kindergarten and the lists for the other grades are a bit longer, but not by much.

I have been saving aside money each month in anticipation of school shopping. After reading that list I feel like I'll have money left in my envelope, plenty of it. Sure I want to get him a lunch box and some new clothing items, but nothing that will break us financially.

My friend Heather heard that the average parent spends 600 dollars per child for school shopping. Seriously? I don't believe it. What are these parents buying? I hope this includes clothing and some very swanky athletic shoes that promise college scholarships. 600 dollars?!

Time magazine did a feature on the growing trend toward single-child-families. The main point was that having more than one child is just too expensive, especially during "these hard economic times." Then it gave a statistic on how much it cost to raise one child from birth to age 18. My husband and I did the math, divide it down per year and laughed. Our annual income was less than how much Time said we needed to spend on just one of our sons per year, let alone three.

So I wonder where these facts and statistics are coming from? What are some parents buying for their kids? I look at my sons, and I see nothing lacking. I see three little boys who are very happy and who have very, very good lives, blessed lives.

I budgeted 100 dollars for my oldest and his first school shopping experience. I think I will do it for 50, and that is with some splurging....which I want to do. If I didn't splurge a bit, I think I could do it for 25 dollars easily.

What about you? What are you planning to spend on school shopping?


Mindi said...

Between the two girls maybe £60 for new school shoes and that is it! They still fit into last year's uniforms and the school provides all the supplies. I have to say, I do like the education system over here.

Heidi Pender said...

Between my three children, one starting preschool, one starting Kindergarten, and one starting 3rd grade I have over 80 school supply items to buy from the lists their schools sent me. (And I'm counting 10 packs of pencils, etc. as 1 item) Your list is DRASTICALLY smaller than any I've ever seen. Must be your school district. I also am not including new clothing in that amount. We have relied on A LOT of hand-me-downs, but as your kids get older, you don't get hand-me-downs anymore. I'm not clothing my kids from Nordstroms (you know that), but still I'm feeling the stress of paying for school supplies and clothes this year, since they've all outgrown their current size this summer.

heather said...

Love that you posted on this! Here is the link to the NPR program that gave the $600 figure:
AND here is the link to the survey on back to school spending:

Rachel P. said...

Because we are planning on homeschooling for the first time this year (yikes!) my budget is in the books and supplies category. Fortunately, I know this won't cost us nearly as much as the supplies we bought for Bug last year in preparation for kindergarten. It seems strange; it might be cheaper for families if they could send their children to school with "used" supplies (ie. a notebook that was not completely used the year before or the crayons and colored pencils leftover).

Jen Rouse said...

The $600 must be with a whole new wardrobe! I do plan to buy my daughters new shoes (that will be the most expensive part), maybe a new pair of pants or two, lots of leggings since they wear skirts all the time, and I'm planning to let each of them get a new special first-day outfit (which I don't plan to spend more than $20).

As far as school supplies go, Lucy's preschool requires quite a bit (three containers of hand wipes! a package of paper plates! a 12-pack of glue sticks!) plus Beth's first-grade stuff.

I'm betting I'll spend $100 minimum on all this stuff for both kiddos. Probably more. But definitely not $600.

Rebekah said...

Heidi, that is horrible. Yes, I think we are benefitting from living in a "lower SES." Not as much is required since maybe they feel many families would not be able to provide as much? You think? I should post the required lists for all the grades so you can compare. There were more things for older grades, but nothiing near 600 dollars.

I talked to my sister and she thought my list was pretty meager too compared to hers, and she also has three children. I do know that once I have all three boys in school there will be a much larger budget needed.

Oh, and I get the clothing issue. I do reap the benefits of two boy cousins, but then by the time my younger two get the clothes they are pretty nasty. I don't think my youngest has any shirts without stains....that were not made by him.

Heather said...

$600 is a bit much, but by the time school starts in september and ends in june I am pretty sure
This year I had to buy for two and it cost me over $100 for supplies. By the time the school year is over in june I will have spend close to the $500 mark. That is including supplies, snacks for the classroom (which I help with, but most parents don't, but there kids eat it), clothing that I purchase as needed through the school year rather than just all at once. I do purchase a nice backpack and lunch box, we found out the first year that a cheap one will barely make it, so we bought a nice one and it has lasted 3 years now and I am hoping it will last another 2-3 years.

It really is obsurd the amount of things that the schools now expect you to put out for your kid when you are already paying for them through your property taxes. I would really like to know what they are spending my money on, it isn't my kid.

Anonymous said...

The School supply lists for my kids are pretty overwhelming. And sometimes hard to find exact items the teachers ask for as you're trying to make it through the crowded isle of supplies and grabby people trying to find those same hard to find items. =) The public schools here usually ask for 2 reams of copy paper even. Guess schools can't afford to buy their own. I think it's a lot. I can't imagine how families with lower income can even do it. I'm keeping all my receipts for school supplies, including clothes and shoes and will let you know by Sept 7th (1st day of school) how much it was for all 3 kids. Sometimes special ed gives us the list after they start so I'll have to update the amount after that.

Laura said...

As an example here is the supply list for just one child going into the 8th grade (private school, but my public school child has a big list too including the flash drive)

2 boxes facial tissue
1 large eraser
1 12 in ruler
colored pencils
blue or black ink pens
zippered pencil pouch
1 GB flash drive
college rule notebook paper
7 loose leaf notebook dividers
Large 3-ring notebook
Graph paper
1 in. 3-ring binder (guess need large one and small one =))
glue sticks
3 sectioned spiral bound notebook
2 whiteboard markers
2" 3-ring binder (not sure why all these binders weren't listed together)
Assignment book (included in the $60 lab fee)
Plus not listed but needed-PE Shirt
Plus not listed but needed-$20 info direct fee to check my child's grades and missing assignments on line. Very necessary for my child.

Overwhelming to say the least.

I could come close to the $600 (but for 3 kids)
Be glad for your school district with Fridays off & a small supply list.

Margo said...

So between my two girls I would imagine we will spend about $150/200 dollars. The school supplies were CHEAP - there have been SOOO many good deals and I've found great clothing deals too, but my girls grow SOOOO fast! I know I could do it on less - but we are able to get more and I don't feel like I'm being overindulgent! As a teacher I understand the required supplies and I know in Albany we have tried to really make the list only what is truly NEEDED! I do buy extra though and give it to the clasroom teacher - they spend huundreds of dollars out of thier own pocket in thier classroom and for our kids - it's a small contriubtion I feel. ALSO - this number might include sports costs as kids get older! I believe most kids pay to play for a sport in the public school system any more, right or wrong that is what has happened. Also - I pay for for private violin lessons and dance lessons for my kids - those number might be included in what people are paying to kick off the school????
Agreed it's crazy - but some people buy their kids $100 pairs of jeans too.......

Rebekah said...

Margo, thanks for the comment about how teachers pay out of their pocket for so many things. My husband does this. We have an envelope for all the receipts, but he always ends up spending more than the government allows for writing off. I wish it wasn't capped. Schools are really having to cut back on programs, staff, and supplies.....I don't mind buying the school list because I know it is all things my child needs etc. When I taught my list was very minimal: one spiral notebook. That was it, other than the obvious notebook and paper and pencils. I always hate it when I hear negative feelings toward the teachers. In all of my husbands years of teaching, he's only ever once received his full paycheck, all other years the Union has voted to take cuts to save from cutting staff members. Which he supported vs. seeing people get cut and class sizes get even bigger. I think this goes unnoticed because teachers don't "brag" about it and most went in to teaching because they felt a calling of sorts to the profession, and really do want to put kids first. OK, going off on my soap box.

Anonymous said...

OK. I finally have all the receipts and am finished with my school shopping. For all 3 kids' clothes, supplies, shoes, etc. the grand total is $509.19. It was actually better than I thought.