"Back to school" are three words that can sound like music to parents’ ears, but that music can turn stressful with the added cost of back-to-school shopping.
Americans will spend a reported $8.6 billion on school shopping, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“When it comes to things like school supplies, those are the things that can make or break your budget,” Robyn Eastwood, assistant director of development and external affairs at Project Hope, a Boston-based organization that helps low-income mothers, told NBC News. “The cost of everything keeps going up. ... Then it makes everything else a struggle.”
The burden on parents is only increasing as schools have less and less money to provide school supplies, placing the extra cost on parents. Some schools are experiencing cutbacks so severe that they are asking parents to help provide such necessities as white board markers, printer ink and classroom scissors.
According to the Huffington Post, providing ink and scissors is the least of parents’ worries. With the increasing need of iPads, graphing calculators and laptops, many schools have BYOT, or bring your own technology, policies.
These growing lists from teachers are often upsetting to parents, but teachers say that a lot of thought goes into their list requests.
“The longer the list, the more unhappy the parents become with major purchases," said Katherine Els, a fifth-grade teacher at Bethany Community School in Bethany, Connecticut, told NPR. "We try to just keep it to a very bare minimum of suggested items."
Even with all the thought that goes into the lists, parents complain that teachers expect their students to arrive on the first day with enough supplies to last the year.
“At Long Branch Elementary School in Virginia, for example, kindergarteners are bringing 10 glue sticks,” NPR reported.
But there are ways to push back on the cost of school supplies said Bankrate.com.
“Start your shopping at home,” Bankrate suggests. “Many people forget that they have a drawer or cup full of pencils and pens at home, no need to buy a new box every year. Also, make sure you know what you need before you go to the store, don’t allow yourself to pick up extra things because you’re mesmerized by the colors.”
Bankrate also said that shopping the back-to-school sales and tax-free days are a smart way to stock up ahead of time.
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