Saturday, August 19, 2017

New School Year Prep: What You Don't Need

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The beginning of a new school year is always a busy time for parents. This is all the truer if your child is moving to a new school, such as the transfer from middle to high school. There’s new planning to be done, new routes to be learned, and of course frayed nerves of your child to be soothed.

In the midst of all this, struggling families have to find space in their budget for all the school supplies they will be required to buy. There are so many suggested items in the ‘back to school’ section of stores, it can be tempting to think you need poor credit secured loans just to be able to buy the basics. The new school year is a time of renewal and excitement, but for parents of more than one child, it can be a stretch on the family finances. In 2015, for example, parents spent around $600 per child on specific back-to-school items - a huge amount of money for the majority of families.

Well, here’s the good news: some of the items that stores are trying to persuade you are essential are actually anything but. Of course, stores have a vested interest in convincing you that you’ve got to buy when you can actually skip sections of their suggestions. So rather than focusing on the items you need, here is a quick rundown of the things you don’t need to buy - bringing a little relief to stretched family finances.

You Don’t Need To Buy… An Entire Math Set

Math sets tend to come packaged together; a ruler, a pencil, a compass. All those things you know you knew how to use once, but have since become obsolete in your adult life. Of course, these items are required for a number of math-based subjects, but buying them all together is unnecessary. A lot of the time you’re going to be paying for the packaging and the convenience when it’s actually much cheaper to buy each item individually. eBay is a great source for inexpensive math equipment, so save yourself some money by sourcing each item individually.

You Don’t Need To Buy… A Whole Range Of New Outfits

There’s no doubt there is a joy in going back to school with a new wardrobe, but it’s simply not a reality - especially for parents of multiple children. While entire school uniforms are relatively rare, it is becoming more and more common for schools to implement a dress code. A dress code gives you a starting point for the basics you need to buy, but don’t be tempted - by stores or by the pleading of your child - to go overboard.

Bear in mind that the younger your children are, the higher the chance you will need to replace their school-appropriate attire throughout the year anyway. Kids grow, after all! Focus on a few school-specific pieces with the intent of getting them through to the fall break, rather than investing in an entire new wardrobe that’s meant to sustain them through to the end of the term.

You Don’t Need… These Stationery Items

We covered some of this with the math set, but here are a few more expensive stationery items that you don’t need to buy:

  • Note cards are rarely used, so it’s better to buy them when asked for rather than as a standard.
  • Mechanical pencils are as easily lost as the cheap standard version, so they’re a waste of money.
  • Whiteout is generally a waste of time and can be messy. Kids will usually just be encouraged to cross out their mistakes.

So skip these too, lowering your bill along the way.


You Don’t Need… Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is not a force for good in the world; they can help promote antibiotic resistance and are not particularly effective at preventing illness. Most kids - and teachers for that matter - will fall ill in the first few weeks of school as their immune systems are introduced to bugs they have never encountered before. This is to be expected, and it isn’t much you can do about it. If you feel you have to try and prevent illness, then a small bottle of basic soap and encouraging your child to wash their hands frequently with it, is the best idea.

The expense of back-to-school can make the onset of fall a trying issue for many families. Hopefully, this list will have helped you trim back some of the costs!


-----The best suggestion you can take is to see what your child's teacher specifically requests for their class(es). That is what we do in our household, wait to see what the teachers actually need the kids to have.

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