The day after the 4th of July, the stores in my area ripped everything summer off the shelves and replaced it with Back to School merchandise. Rows of backpacks replaced swim vests and bathing suits. Sneakers and ankle boots kicked hundreds of flip flops into clearance bins, and the amount of material on shirts and pants grew longer.
Though I no longer have kids of school age, seven of my nine grandkids head back in less than a month, and their parents are not looking forward to the infamous, ginormous, dreaded school lists. One son has five kids, four of them in school, and my daughter has three in school. Not only do they have to face School Supply Lists for each one, but there are also other back to school expenses: doctors, dentists, haircuts, clothes. The list continues on and on.
It can be quite a hardship that swoops down on parents all at once. I picked up three different SSLs while out shopping last week, each from three different school districts in my area. The least number of items on one list was twenty-one different items; the most had thirty-eight. But this will not end there. No sir. The children will come home the first day of school, if not by the end of the first week, with additional items required by some of their teachers: lab fees, uniforms, mouth guards or mouth pieces. They will have bought the wrong color ring binder and the teacher will insist it clashes with the color scheme for the class or the class period. The student will need to replace their four-inch, three ring binder with a three-inch, three ring binder. Mom and Dad will scramble to buy these things while trying to feed their family with whatever money is left in their budget for the month.
We always had just enough but I sometimes wished I had a second job or a fairy godmother.
My advice is to hoard. Along with buying all these many items listed on the SSL, buy extras if you can and keep them for later. A ream of notebook paper on sale in August costs twenty cents. They do this to bait parents into shopping at their store, so buy extras. In January when your child needs another ream of paper it will cost about the same as a sirloin steak. You will thank me for this advice later.
Look for sales. Shop dollar stores. Take advantage of the tax-free weekends. You’ll wish you had a second job or a fairy godmother.
At the end of the year, force (threaten) your children to bring home all their school supplies. Don’t let them throw them away at school or donate them to the teacher. It is your property and you want it back. I recycled pencils and pens, scissors and rulers, pencil boxes and zipper bags. My three handed down map pencils and water colors to one another all through elementary. In fact, I still own some of those things. It embarrassed them when I dusted and wiped off binders, or when I sent them to school with lumpy erasers, but embarrassing them was part of my job description.
So was providing for them.
They came around when I used the money saved on them on new jeans or sneakers or eating out. They agreed with me that some of the stuff on the school supply list was rarely used. Scissors, rulers, and the immortal water color set do not wear out.