school shopping

Back-to-School Brings Out Shopping Lists and Fundraisers, Too

Have I been sleeping in a cave for 100 years? Sure feels like it. I just read that as a nation, we will spend (brace)  $41.5 billion getting our kids outfitted to go back to school this fall. And by outfit I mean with all the “proper” electronic gear, shoes with all the bells and whistles (I would like a pair of those sneakers with little wheels embedded in the soles), backpacks, instruments, and of course, the ever-popular school supplies.

school shopping

Yikes! That’s a whole lotta’ money.

Granted, I don’t have school-aged children, but come on! The average elementary schooler’s must-haves in school supplies, extracurricular fees and technology this year comes in at $1,017; for middle school students, it’s $1,277; and for high school kids, $1,668 each, according to the 13th Annual Backpack Index Survey from Huntington Bank in Columbus, Ohio.

Get real

Look, I’m open to being convinced that I’m wrong, but is this anywhere close to realistic? Perhaps if you feel you must purchase an entire school year’s worth of pencils, pens, crayons, paper, notebooks, binders, calculators, laptop, printer cartridges; shoes, sneakers, jeans, slacks, sweaters, blouses, shirts, sweaters, socks, undies, sports outfits and paraphernalia. But I would find that to be a little ridiculous in that kids do grow, styles do change, and, quite frankly, who wants to do all that laundry?

Spread the cost

Spreading the cost over the school year seems more reasonable to me. Unless it’s notebook paper, pens and paper. Those are so cheap right now at office supply stores, you really should stock up for the entire year.

So am I missing something here? I’d love to go head-on with any school-aged family to prove to them that I could get the kids looking mighty fine and with all the stuff they need in their backpacks for a lot less than this projected per child amount.

Okay, all of you parents, students, teachers, administrators, and grandparents … what am I missing here? Has really become that expensive to get kids back to school?


While we’re on the subject, let’s throw fundraisers into the discussion.

Every year about this time, I get a flood of messages that are some variation of, “I am so sick of my kids bringing home catalogs full of cheap, overpriced stuff that the school expects us to sell. How can we deal with this? I’d love some advice and insight on how other parents do it.”

I remember those days. Of course, I wanted my kids to win all the prizes for being the best little fundraisers, which multiplied the pressure we already felt from the school and Little League. I pity all of my co-workers, neighbors, relatives and friends who got caught up in my web of obligation.

I’m married to a guy who is a big old softy when it comes to children bearing boxes of anything that they’re selling to raise money for their schools and teams. I think we still have a supply of The World’s Finest Chocolate bars left in the refrigerator from last season. And probably a tub or two of cookie dough in the freezer, too. Oh, and gift wrap and candles.

Now that I think about it, maybe I haven’t moved beyond the fundraiser pressure cooker season of my life, after all.

Your turn

So, how do you deal with school supplies, outfits, and fundraisers? I can’t think of a better place to unload, share, question or even plead your case for your particular fundraiser of choice than in the comments below.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

More from Everyday Cheapskate

fixed income female adult looking into empty brown leather wallet
memorial day activities female hand placing fresh picked flowers on grave site with american flag
barbecue chicken pulled sandwich easy coleslaw recipe
how do i clean a bbq grill black charcoal bbq in backyard
deep clean carpet female hand brushing white plush carpet
cozy midcentury modern home office on a budget
tidy organized residential garage
starter kitchen items knife oven mitts pyrex baking dish slow cooker pots pans coffeemaker

Please keep your comments positive, encouraging, helpful, brief,
and on-topic in keeping with EC Commenting Guidelines

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

3 replies
  1. Carolyn Brade says:

    I support one of the Christian schools in my neighborhood by buying gift cards through RaiseRight for places I normally shop at, a few times a hardware store gift car for wedding gift, and restaurant one for gift to someone who normally treats me to dinner at that restaurant.

    Lots for chain car washes will let schools sell gift cards for their place and a few on their website say the group gets to keep 50%. I live in a rust belt area so I would be game for buying some to support a good cause.

  2. Eleanor W Miller says:

    With several kids in school at one point, I found it worked for me to donate cash, usually $10. I did not want or need the junk being sold, felt the cash would all go to the school. I had read that the schools realize very little money from these fundraisers and really did not want to be a part of pushing junk consumerism. My kids are long out of school, and we don’t get asked to contribute to fundraisers like that much anymore, but I would do the same thing today. None of us need that junk

  3. Barbie Greer says:

    I read a tip a while ago – to just give a $5 or $10 “donation” instead of purchasing an item you don’t want, need or can’t afford.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *