Do I Need Everything on That School Supply List?

suppliesDoes it seem like school supply lists are getting longer and longer?  Really, over the years I have found them too long and filled with things that may or may not get used. Several different news reports have done the research to show this is happening. Many parents are left scratching their heads and digging for their wallets just to cover the basics. Before you get overwhelmed and wonder how you’ll make it happen take a few moments to see if you really need to buy everything on the list. As I always say Make a list and check it twice. 

Get the List

Most schools are very good about providing a supply list early either through the mail, on their website, or in local stores. If you aren’t able to find one using the previous year’s list is likely to be a good guide. Changing grades, especially in elementary school won’t mean a big change in what is needed. Though elementary to junior high or high school could vary dramatically. Until you get the official list consider these a general guide and along with your judgement will be a good place to start. I always say use common sense. 


You’ve heard it for years when it comes to plastic and cans but what about recycling school supplies. If you have notebooks, folders, colored pencils, pens etc. in the house from the last school year or previous purchases, use them! You might also set aside partial sets of crayons, pencils or markers to donate to your child’s classroom or art department if they’re in need of extra supplies. Finding just a few of these items can help you cross a few items off the list.

Nearly every list will have a backpack. This is also one of the most expensive supplies to purchase. Instead of going for the cheapest option invest in a better quality bag if you can. They can last at least two years if not more. My daughter is on year 3 with her backpack. This year she is getting a new one as she is headed to college and high school. 

Shop the Sales

Nearly every store has some type of back to school promotion. The advertisements begin arriving in the mail as soon as summer hits. Check regularly beginning in July to see which stores are offering sales. If you spread out your purchases it also will make buying supplies easier on your budget. There also are hundreds of coupons in circulation around this time of year for both online and in store shopping. As well make money saving apps your friend. They can tell you where the best deals are. Have you downloaded Flipp yet? It’s great for making the list and finding the best deals in your local flyers. As well as Flipp there are several money saving apps put out by retailers these days. I have seen special deals appearing on these as well. 

Ask the Teacher

If you’re really stretched for money it won’t hurt to ask your child’s teacher what they truly need and what they might be able to bring to school later in the year. For example many teachers ask for Kleenex or Ziploc Bags, these become classroom goods and not specifically for your student. It won’t make a big difference if you bring them at the beginning of the year or a few months down the road.

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