August has barely begun, and already parents are either sending their children back to school (Whoa! Whatever happened to summer!?), or getting ready to do the same in a few weeks. That means, of course, steeling ourselves for some major shopping and hoping to find ways to save money on back-to-school supplies.
And boy, do we need all the help we can get. Just looking at my daughter's school list made me go all MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over). There was a separate supply list for each class. Each. Class. Two two-pocket folders for math, one for ELA, another for science, and so on. A spiral notebook here, a graph notebook there. Plus the usual assortment of pens, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, sticky notepads, and cleaning supplies that never seems to vary with each grade. On top of that, of course, are the organizers, pencil cases, sharpeners, lunch boxes, backpacks, and all the other school necessities that, with any luck, will help ensure a successful year.
But this doesn't come cheap. According to the National Retail Foundation, back-to-school spending, from kindergarteners through high school, is expected to top $82.8 billion this year. That's a lot of notebooks.
I don't begrudge my kids or their schools all those supplies. Hey, I'm a teacher as well as a mom, so I know that half of those pencils get lost or chewed up in the first three weeks, and all those tissues don't stand a chance during flu and allergy season. But just because we have to prepare our children for school doesn't mean we have to clean out our bank accounts doing it. Not when we can take advantage of these money-saving tricks out there.