Back to School Shopping. Again.

Back to School Shopping. Again.

We’re in the midst of summer break, and the last thing the kids want to think of is going back to school.

But everywhere we go we are assaulted with BACK TO SCHOOL signs, emails, website banners – heck, I even have the Amazon ad here on my blog!! Back to School season is big business.

When I was a wee lass, way back in the mists of time, I got new school supplies when I needed them, not so that I would start each year with a new pencil case, fresh pencils, scented erasers and new binders. We reused and recycled from the years before. And we were nowhere near green people. Just…thrifty.

I have friends who spend hundreds of dollars every August for the back to school supply list. That doesn’t even include the clothes! Clothes we buy when the kids need them, although thankfully we have plenty of hand me downs over here. Why can’t kids reuse their binders and pencil cases? Do they really need a new backpack every single year? With the amount of money we spend on tuition (for private religious school) do we really have extra money to spend on supplies that aren’t necessary?

There’s also tremendous pressure for the kids to not feel left out. If 95% of the class has new backpacks, they don’t want to be different. (If you’re lucky, your kid won’t care). Who wants to be responsible for their kid being singled out as the one who doesn’t have nice new things? But where does it end??

I have had kids in school for fifteen years. At this point, they get clean clothes, a sharpened pencil and a fresh notebook on Day One of the school year – everything else they have to reuse or recycle from the previous year. And you know what? They still do well in school.

What’s your Back To School shopping philosophy?

Post Written by


  1. Lady Lock N Load says:

    If it gets the kids excited about school to have a new pencil case and binder, then it’s worth the money. How much can a new pencil case be already?
    The only thing that annoys me is when the teachers give supply lists and don’t use most of the things they asked for. I feel like I wasted my time (shopping for it) and money.
    I don’t think a new knapsack is really needed for every year unless the old one is in bad shape.

    • Vanessa says:

      Yes! Year after year of them bringing home unused, expensive hard cover notebooks! And other items that aren’t cheap. Why do they need so many boxes of crayons, markers etc.

  2. Vanessa says:

    Hadassah, I’m with you! I prefer to spend the money on a good backpack that will last 5 years, than a new, cheap one each year. For all those folders, we go through what we have, and see what is suitable to be reused. I do buy fresh boxes of pencils and erasers, but as much as I can, I recycle from year to year. This year will be our first experience in the public school system, and the supply lists are similar to what we had at Day School, even quantities are the same. We are using as much as we can from our home school supplies, and hopefully I won’t have to buy too much. I’d rather use the extra money to take the kids out for ice cream after their first day back at school!

  3. S.A. says:

    My biggest expense is uniforms. I work full time and can’t do laundry more than once a week so I need at least a weeks worth of outfits. On top of that, Chloe has a growth spurt in January so I need to have the next size up for when that happens. As far as school supplies go I shop the sales for the basic items I’m sure they’ll ask for since by the time you get a supply list the sales are all over. Since Chloe’s birthday is August 29 she also gets a book bag or two from friends for her gift. It is practical but also very much appreciated.

    I like your idea of being frugal and reusing what you have. Why don’t I do it despite cash being tight? I was the poor kid who had nothing. It is a hangover from childhood, so I make sure my kids get nice things.

  4. jay says:

    I am still using the ring binders that I used for my notes in university, 30 years ago.
    Now I keep crochet patterns in them!

Leave A Reply