It’s almost back to school time in the Northeast. I know parts of the Country are already in school, but we typically start our school year after Labor Day. Prior to our debt repayment, this would be the time of year that we would be out shopping for new clothes, shoes, and supplies ringing up $200-$300 per child and paying for it all on credit cards.
This year we are taking a different approach.
We are going to prioritize their needs and purchase them as we have the cash to do so. Supplies will be first, but with the supplies, we are not picking up every item on the teacher’s list. Over the years we have found that often not everything gets used. So we’ll purchase it as it is needed, instead of all at once. Some of the items, we have from years past (folders, colored pencils, etc.) Since our three children have all moved on from grade school, (we have 2 are in high school and 1 in middle school) the overall supply list should be smaller. Shoes are next as these take a daily beating, and then clothes. A simple approach and remembering to stick to needs verse wants when shopping.
With a new school year comes other expense like class photos, field trips, class supplies, teacher gifts, etc. I don’t recall when I was in school my parents spending the amount of money I do on my children. Class photos are now twice a year, teachers ask for more supplies including tissues, wipes, etc. There is also all the gift giving to just about everyone these days, teachers, teachers aids, bus drivers, etc. I’m not sure when this changed but it seems like these days during the Holidays they all get gifts and always at the end of the school year for the teachers and bus drivers. The gifts are usually cash or a gift card.
I’m more than willing to chip in, but if I’m looking to save money to pay debt why should I feel obligated to get gifts for people who are already being paid for their job. I hope my contribution or lack thereof doesn’t affect the education our children receive.
What are you spending tips and trick when sending the kids back to school? How do you handle gift giving for the likes of teachers, teacher aid, and bus drivers?