Oh, the joys of the back-to-school season. The signs in department stores point us to the back-to-school section. The smells of fresh notebooks and the vision of all the wonderful ideas that will eventually be scribbled on the pages is every teacher’s dream.
However, after kids' requests for name-brand shoes and designer clothing, parents must pry open their wallets for yet another expense: school supplies.
I have to admit, I was excited that my daughter was entering kindergarten this year and that I was finally going to get to buy school supplies.
But, I was quickly alarmed as my cart filled up and I still had half of the list to go. I ended up stopping the trip at $60 and returning on payday of the next week for another $40 in glue, Kleenex, antibacterial wipes and markers.
As ridiculously expensive as my own shopping trip was, I started imagining how the parents of an older child felt—who may be required to buy an expensive graphing calculator or other high-tech item.
The Huntington Backpack Index, a project of Huntington National Bank, reported parents can expect to spend up to 25 percent more this school year to fill their children's backpacks and pay for extracurricular activities—the largest annual increase in the index’s six-year history.
Huntington’s annual survey of the cost of items on school supply lists found that between summer 2010 and now, elementary school costs shot up from $474 to $530 (12 percent); middle school costs ballooned from $545 to $681 (25 percent); and high school costs increased from $1,000 to $1,091 (9 percent).
These numbers also include “pay-to-play” fees for school sports teams and other extracurricular activities, which have spiked rapidly as schools face financial shortfalls.
Many communities have set up school supply donation banks for families having a hard time with back-to-school costs. For example, ResourceWest is collecting school supplies for 1,100 children in the Minnetonka and Hopkins school district.
After spending a quick $100, I have decided that last year’s backpack is still in excellent shape and will be reused.
How much have you spent on supplies for your child this year? Have you found a way to cut costs? What's the most expensive thing you've had to buy? Tell us in the comments section below.