My Back-to-School Budget



My two boys will be back to school in a couple of weeks. Once again, I am excited to see my boys in school uniforms, learning and interacting with kids of their age. While my excitement is there, I tried not to be so excited with buying their school supplies. Meaning, I did not allow my excitement to cloud my judgment and rule budget planning to the point of spending beyond our means.

To be able to stick to our budget, my husband and I gauged our to-buy list according to the following:

Photo Credit: Elizabeth via Wikimedia Commons

Supply List. Firstly, we categorize our to-buy list into two columns: compulsory and discretionary. The supply lists from my boys’ respective school serve as our gauge in determining, which school supply falls which column. Different schools list different items. An item that may be listed to one supply list may not be included to another. For instance, one of my boys needs apron for painting while the other does not. The other needs Crayola markers with broad tip, but his brother does not. The supply list helps me differentiates the needs from the wants and the immediate from the ultimate.

Clothing Policy. As varied as the supply list, the clothing policy for every school is also different. One of my sons’ school specifies the student’s clothing from top to shoes. The other school only requires students to wear the school’s T-shirts. This means that we have varied sets of clothing priorities for the boys. That, Velcro shoes may be a need to one but not to another.

After going through the school’s supply list and clothing policy, and making sure everything in the list was met, we moved to satisfy our other want-based school supplies.

Reading Materials. We make a conscious effort to introduce our values to our kids in an educational fashion. So, reading and/or print materials make it to our discretionary spending list. A good amount of children’s books tailored to a specific cause a parent may support is available in the market at a minimal price. Be it financial literacy, political principles, or a strong emphasis on morals and humanitarian cause, our $50 budget for this discretionary school supply is adequate.

Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are an excellent way to stimulate children, physically, mentally and emotionally. A $20 budget for Uncle Wiggily and Bean Bags pave to a couple of excellent games and puzzles.

My husband and I set aside $400 for our boys’ school needs. While we did not max out our budget, we realized, school things are a lot expensive than we expect. It helped that we bought the majority of our sons’ school supplies at the onset of June when we found agreeable deals. Some of the missing items, we bought at a later date. While shopping for school supplies entails some budgeting, it is actually fun. However, it is the thought that my kids will be using and learning through them that gave me a sense of fulfillment.



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