Have you noticed that every year, whatever holiday is next on the calendar, stores have begun advertising for it earlier and earlier? I swear this year the day after Christmas I walked through the store and was visually accosted by pink and red, heart shaped, fuzzy, Valentine’s Day propaganda. So in July, I don’t even want to talk about a certain craft and hobby story that already has fall and Christmas décor out. I will give retailers credit, it’s a clever marketing scheme. The sooner you plant the seed of the next coming holiday (even if its months away) the sooner people are thinking about it. And thus perpetuates the seemingly endless cycle of year round spending.
It isn’t a holiday (although some parents may celebrate like it is) but back-to-school time ranks right up there with them in terms of expenses. And depending on how many kids you have and what level of school they’re in, your back to school supply expenses will differ from year to year. Oh and before you even leave the house to secure said supplies, pack your bags, because you’ll be taking a guilt trip. Whether it’s that latest character backpack that is clearly the only vessel suitable for transporting your daughter’s items, or a specific set of pencils because “everybody has them,” kids definitely have their preferences. From the sound of it, it might seem like their whole school experience, their social status, their friendships, not to mention their future, depends on the turquoise spiral notebook with three dividers and the right brand name on the cover. They can paint curiously vivid pictures of your cruelty in denying them their “needs”. What kind of parent wants their child to suffer the agonies of embarrassment?
Don’t get caught in this trap.
Actually, avoid this trap completely. Before you set off on your quest for materials, sit down with each child’s school supply list and cross off items you know you already have at home. You can save a lot of time and money by using items that pile up from year to year. It’s also helpful to designate a box for school materials at home, that way you know right where they are and where to go when checking to see what you have. After you’ve made your list, talk to each child about which stores you plan to visit and how much you are willing to spend on their supplies. This will give them a good lesson in budgeting. Because you gave them a clear budget to start with, they can now pick a more expensive item, by trading off on other supplies that are cheaper.
When you plan your shopping trip, remember that there are two times to shop: early and late. The early is mid-July, when stores are marking down prices to attract customers, and late is the first week of school when everything goes on clearance. Just remember, you’re not alone out there. When you pass that parent in the aisle with that look of defeat while their kids are pulling pocket folders and packs of pencils from the shelves, expressing how much they “need’ them, know that we’re all in this together. And we will all get through it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attempt to salvage any school materials in the house that didn’t get eaten by Moose or used to wallpaper my living room. I’m Claire, the Afena blog mom. Thanks for reading!