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Here's How Much A Family Living On $70,000 Spends On School Shopping

by Bustle Studios
Originally Published: 

Raising a child supposedly costs you a quarter of a million dollars, but it can honestly be more daunting to face the idea of spending $80 on bottle nipples in a single month. Expense Report gives us a look into the spending, scrimping, and wishing that defines parenthood, from what moms spend on birthdays, childcare, sleep, self-care (we wish!), and beyond.

How much does the average family shell out when it comes to school supplies in a given year? For a single-parent family with one kid going into first grade and one going into pre-K, the answer involves lots of classroom supplies and new clothes to supplement a healthy amount of hand-me-downs.

Check out Romper's Back To School issue so you can ace this upcoming year with tips from experts, parents, and kids.

Family: A single mom in her early thirties

Location: Boston, MA

Annual income: Approximately $70,000

Number of children: Two (now ages 4 and 6)

Don't get me wrong: Prepping for pre-K is no joke, but getting your little human set up for success in first grade is the equivalent of being drafted into the big leagues when you were just getting comfortable playing t-ball.

With a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old at home, I'm currently doing both, and here's what parents can expect: Before school begins, you will receive a lengthy and very detailed official list of supplies to come prepared with. Then comes the second list — the one that comes straight from your kid and includes everything else your child "needs," AKA everything that he or she is currently fixated on.

Reconciling the lists and pulling it all together in time for the first day of school can feel like a pipe dream, but trust me, it is possible — even when you're on a budget.

With two boys just two years apart, a big money-saver for me is that my youngest can rock hand-me-downs like it's nobody's business. That leaves just one growing boy in need of new duds, and hallelujah for that, because clothes are generally the costliest expenditure on our back-to-school shopping list.

Both kids need a good amount of supplies, but with some savvy shopping and a bit of experience in this department, I know how to find the deals. The same is true for my cell phone bill. As a full-time working mom, I recently made the easy switch to Boost Mobile so I can save on my bill while getting unlimited data, talk and text, and making sure that I have reliable service whenever the school nurses, teachers, and very hopefully not the principal are trying to reach me. This year, the savings on my phone bill actually covered the basic BTS expenses for my youngest.

And pro tip, Boost is currently offering a deal with four free phones, so families big and small can stay connected as they head back into the school year.

Here's what I actually spent on school supplies this back-to-school season:

Classroom Supplies

Allison Gore/Bustle

Back-to-school supplies come standard with the start of a new school year. Luckily for my youngest, many of his supplies are provided along with his pre-K tuition. My oldest receives a list of things that we stock up on for the whole year.

Insulated lunchbox with thermos: $19 (x 2)

Backpack: $35 (x 2)

Primary journal: $4

Pre-sharpened pencils: $2

Block erasers: $1.50

Pencil pouch: $5

Pencil sharpener: $1

Folder: $2

Glue sticks: $3

Student scissors: $1

Crayons: $5

Classroom supplies subtotal: $132.50

Educational Toys And Art Supplies

Allison Gore/Bustle

Homework needs aside, it's a great idea to have the right supplies on-hand at home to support kids' learning experience outside of traditional school hours. My kids especially love learning games that reinforce the subjects that they're already learning from their teachers.

Paper: $5

Colored pencils: $2

Block erasers: $1.50

Reading flash cards: $9.99

Basic math game: $12.99

Library books (x 2): $0

Educational toys and art supplies subtotal: $31.48


Allison Gore/Bustle

Around the same time that my youngest son starts helping himself to his older brother's clothes, my oldest grows (seemingly overnight) a few inches taller and suddenly nothing in his closet is comfortable or appropriate for school. New clothes are a necessity, but we definitely make an effort to stick to the basics.

Pants (x 5): $90

T-shirts (x 5): $60

Long-sleeved shirts (x 5): $75

Fall jacket: $40

Undies: $12

Sneakers (x 2): $70

Clothing subtotal: $347

Grand Total: $510.98

All told, we got what we needed, and we cashed in on some savings that came along at just the right time for our family. With a bit of resourcefulness, experience, and research into the best prices, everything came together and it's safe to say that we started off the new school year on the right foot.

This post is sponsored by Boost Mobile.

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