School Expenses

If you’re ever curious as to how much you rely on your computer for your daily living, try having your router go belly-up. You’ll know pretty quick-like just how often you (try to) get on-line on a daily basis.

School started here
this week for my three children. I am officially the mother of one 8th grader, one first grader, and a preschooler.

When it comes to preparing for school, the 8th grader is decidedly the most expensive. I have gone shopping more times this month than I think I have the rest of the year altogether, just for his various “supplies”. The main culprit? This dastardly little calculator. A “TI-30XIIS”, to be exact. Apparently, the same calculator every other middle schooler in the Dayton area also needed. Quite the popular little bugger. I know this because I went to no fewer than FIVE STORES just to find a store that wasn’t already sold out.
Conner said, “Next time we need to go shopping for supplies a lot earlier, like right after school is out.”

I replied, “How about this time you don’t let your calculator get stolen out of your locker?”

That is, assuming they don’t change the type of calculator required each year. And no, I don’t remember what kind we had to get last year. I’d go look at it to compare, but he doesn’t have it anymore.

To the best of my calculations (ahem) we’ve spent about $266 on school so far. The Breakdown…

Peter the Preschooler:

  • Registration ~ $15.00
  • Backpack ~ $15.00

Olivia the First Grader:

  • Registration ~ $40.00
  • Backpack & Lunchbox ~ $25.00
  • PTO and school supplies ~ $25.00

Conner the Eighth Grader:

  • Registration ~ $40.00
  • PTO ~ $15.00
  • School pictures ~ $31.00
  • school supplies ~ $60.00

Total ~ $266

On Backpacks…

Buying your kids school backpacks can become a major expense. You might have noticed that Conner’s expenses did not include one for a backpack. That’s because we invested in a good-quality backpack for him three years ago. We paid around $50 for it and The Hubs made sure he understood that “you’ll be using this backpack until you go to college.” And maybe even while you’re there, too. So far it’s still going strong, so who knows?

Before his current backpack Conner used a pretty cheap one ($6?) that I scored on discount back when he was a preschooler. Yes, I now realize I got lucky. Not only did it last that long; it also never “disappeared” or was otherwise lost or stolen. He still keeps that one around for road trips and sleepovers and such, and it’s still in decent shape.

Alas, with his younger siblings I have not been so fortunate. I got Olivia a cheap backpack last year at Wally Mart — spent about $7 — and it was falling apart by the time she finished kindergarten. Peter’s preschool backpack fared a little better: it was the same one Olivia used while she was in preschool. But it, too, barely finished out last year.

Pros and Cons of Backpack Investment:

I’m of two minds on investing in good-quality backpacks for your kids. Yes, they last longer. But at a young age their interests and tastes are so fleeting that it would be difficult to choose one that would suit them for years to come. If this is even something that concerns you.

Also, you have to keep in mind the probability of your child losing his backpack — or even having a particularly nice one stolen. And yes, these things happen. In fact, Conner did not get a new lunchbox this year. I had purchased a pretty nice one for him at some point last year — nice meaning around $10 at Tar-zhay — but not too much later I noticed him packing his lunch in a plastic sack.

“Where’s your lunchbox I got you?” I asked him.

“Oh, it disappeared.” He shrugged. Lost? Stolen? He didn’t know. He just “couldn’t find it”.

This year when he asked for a new lunchbox I told him he could just make do with plastic sacks again for awhile — or, you know, he’s welcome to buy his own with his allowance.

So far he’s opting for the plastic sacks. I’ll probably get him one as a birthday present next month, but he doesn’t know that, of course.

**Oh, and just in case you’re curious? A basic router runs about $60. This has not been a good month for finances, no indeed. We have managed some debt reduction, but our progress has definitely taken a hit. I’ll be updating our Snowball Status at the first of next month. (You can also look at the numbers anytime on the left sidebar.)

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