It seems like kids should loathe and parents should rejoice back to school time, but the truth is both groups hate it. It means summer is almost over for kids, and the daily grind is about to start again. Parents don’t have it easy, either, since they have to start packing lunches and shopping for supplies that add to a final bill akin to holiday shopping.
Set a budget for what you can spend to avoid crashing your credit card, and then ask your kids to help you find ways to get what you need while staying within the limit. This could involve repurposing last year’s materials, keeping an eye out for sales, or deferring purchases until they’re absolutely necessary.
Back to School Items are a Waste of Your Money
10. Expensive gym shoes
Your kids might be begging you to put the most fabulous new shoes on your back-to-school list, but they probably don’t need top-of-the-line gym shoes. The best pair of Air Jordan shoes won’t make your child jump higher or run faster, but those expensive sneakers will wear out just as quickly as their regular footwear.
9. Mechanical pencils
No matter how great of a deal you get on mechanical pencils, they don’t need to be among the back-to-school items you put in your cart. Either they’re running out of the lead at the wrong time, or kids are losing them as often as regular pencils. Also, no matter how old your students are, they probably don’t need special pencils.
8. Loose-leaf paper
According to the Associated Press, schools increasingly rely on tablets such as Google Chromebooks for assignments in and out of the classroom. In this day and age, a giant ream of loose-leaf paper is practically useless. Most notebooks, which you’re probably buying anyway, have tearaway paper if something needs to be turned in to the teacher.
If you want to get on a grade school teacher’s wrong side, then, by all means, put Smarties and Pixy Stix on your back-to-school shopping list. But put yourself in a teacher’s shoes. How would you feel facing a classroom full of kids on a sugar rush followed by the inevitable crash? You might have just shuddered at the thought, and that’s why candy is one of the back-to-school items educators don’t want to see in the classroom.
6. Disposable lunch supplies
Brown paper bags, individually-packaged snacks, and plastic sandwich bags make packing a lunch for your kids easy, but they all end up in the garbage. However, if you’re thinking long-term, it makes sense to buy reusable containers for sandwiches and snacks. The initial cost for reusable containers is higher, but you’ll save money in the long run.
5. Deluxe versions of everyday items
Your kids might need a set of coloured pencils or a pack of ballpoint pens, but do you know what they don’t need? A massive collection of $19 glitter pens or a $33 set of coloured pencils. The deluxe versions of regular supplies are pointless back-to-school items you don’t need.
This one comes with a caveat. First, of course, some students will need backpacks, and if the one from last school year is worn out, then a new one is in order. But if your little one is starting school, they won’t need a huge book bag since there won’t be too much schoolwork coming home. Plus, a loaded backpack won’t be doing any favours for your child’s posture.
Just as most students won’t need a clipboard in the classroom, the same goes for note cards. Kids don’t need notecards for most of their projects at school. But, if the teacher says you need them, go in with a group of parents to buy a large pack and divide them among the kids.
Teachers tell Forbes that clipboards are some of the most pointless back-to-school items, so if it’s on your list, you can cross it off. Students don’t need a clipboard for most schoolwork, and if they do, you can probably find one around the house or make your own with some corrugated cardboard.
1. New lunchboxes
A blogger at The Simple Dollar puts new lunchboxes in the “don’t need” category. Unless last year’s lunchbox is wholly dilapidated, there’s no reason to buy a new one.