I just read that an average of $404 is spent on school supplies and clothing for back to school.  This must not include registration fees, sports and music fees, field trip fees, or busing and lunch room fees, as I’m sure I spent way more than that for each of my sons and they have been out of school for almost fifteen years!

When I was in school the teacher handed out a pencil and scribbler to each student and that was the extent of my supplies.  In high school they added a pile of textbooks with stern warnings about not damaging them and I bought a 3-inch binder and a package of loose-leaf paper.  A few new clothes were an additional expense and I remember wearing a scratchy new wool turtleneck on the first day of school, which coincided with the heat wave of Indian summer!

Even kindergarteners have a list of required supplies issued by the school as long as my arm.  As an additional insult, specific brands and sizes are named so parents can’t even buy bargains at Wal-Mart or Superstore.  Apparently this is so the wee ones don’t feel anxious or jealous if someone has something different.  Add to the list the “proper” electronic gear, new shoes, clothes and backpacks each year and it’s no wonder many parents go into debt to outfit their children.

Spending for college and university students is even more insane.

Buying the required books every semester above and beyond the tuition costs is a feat in itself.  The there’s the additional expense of decorating and furnishing their dorm rooms or apartments on top of the latest electronics if the students are away from home.  How much do you want to bet that they are the same kids who are lined up at the Student Financial Aid office to pick up their student loans?

Loan and grant monies are paid through our tax dollars so it’s as though my taxes are buying them luxuries that I can’t even afford.  They need to be more concerned about their education and less about the cool games stand or funky lamp for their dorm room.

University students are borrowing at a rate that is frightening.  As well as government loans, the major banks offer their own student lines of credit and credit cards.  How do they expect to be paid when most students can’t even budget their money?  Debt management is desperately needed.

Students must take the lead to prepare for university through hard work and determination by working during the summer and applying for scholarships in order to be debt free.  Live at home and attend college nearby.  Parents can provide some support if required and the budget permits.

Back to school shopping is a huge expense that can be reduced through judicious planning and budgeting.  Not everything needs to be brand new or even bought all at once.  Question the schools (especially elementary school) about the need for certain supplies.

We don’t have to go back to the pencil and scribbler days but there has to be a line drawn at some point.


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