The Surprising Costs of Back to School Shopping

back to schoolWhen we were kids, back-to-school shopping meant a new backpack, some new sneakers, and maybe a first day outfit. Our parents moaned about the cost of shoes, and now that we're ponying up for it all, we get it. But one look at the long list of school supplies the average parent is supposed to send in with their kid, and I've got to tell you -- our parents had it EASY!


Back-to-school shopping isn't just about getting YOUR kid ready for school these days, it's re-stocking the classroom. The National Retail Federation estimates families spent around $606 this time last year, and an informal survey of parents reveals some have already spent as much as $650 on two kids (including the sneakers and clothes). Some families are getting away with reusing last year's backpack -- some are relying on hand-me-downs while some are buying all new duds.

But we're all footing the bill to keep our kids' classrooms in business. So what is a typical supply list going to set you back? We took the list from a first grade classroom in upstate New York (aka, my daughter's classroom) and crunched the numbers based on figures at national chains:

1 Plastic Pencil Box -- $1.79 (fortunately the pretty pink one is the same cost as the others)

4 Large Glue Sticks -- Score! The dollar store sells these in four-packs for just $1.

3 Packages Sharpened Pencils -- We already have a sharpener, so we only ponied up $1.95 per box for a total of $5.85.

2 18/14 Count Crayons -- At $2.64 apiece, this is a $5.28 investment.

2 Big Pink Erasers -- One two-pack is $1

1 Box Tissues -- I snagged a three-pack for $4.58. I'll use the other two boxes at home, bringing this to $1.52.

1 Container Baby Wipes -- $2 (off-brand)

2 Plastic Pocket Folders --  At $2 apiece (for the heavy duty kind), this was a $4 investment.

1 Pair of Scissors -- $2.49

2 Packages Markers -- Two-pack for $5.80

2 Packages Colored Pencils -- $2.84 per box for a total of $5.68

1 Box Gallon Size Ziploc Bags -- $3.16

1 Change of Clothing -- Pheww, something we already have! $0

That's $39.57 -- or $40 if you want to round up -- just to get a kid in the door of a "free" public school. Our parents definitely had it better!

How much do you expect to spend this year? How much of that is stuff schools used to supply?


Image via 04deveni/Flickr

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