How To Do Proper Budgeting For Back To School Shopping

1. Introduction

It’s that time of the year again with the summer approaching. The vaccination drive in the U.S.A has been going great as nearly fifty percent of the adults in America have been vaccinated. The schools around the country are also opening and everything is going back to normal.

This is also the time when every parent would be doing back-to-school shopping for their kids. Parents need to know which school items that should be purchased and which ones they already own on hand. This can sometimes prove to be really frustrating as your children would remind you at night just before the school is opening or even in the morning.

Every year, back-to-school supplies keep getting more expensive and the stress never seems to be going away. To avoid any issues or frustrations, what you should do is plan ahead. Some schools also provide a list of things that children would need on their return to school. You can use this list as a reference.

Another thing that parents need to know is which grocery stores that offer friendly prices in the neighborhood. It does not necessarily have to be a grocery store. Some big retail chains also offer a steep discount on school supplies before the back-to-school season begins. You can also order the school supplies online. But, it may take some days before you get the supplies you ordered online. So, if time may be an issue for you; you should buy the school supplies from nearby shops.

2. Proper budgeting templates for buying back to school supplies

Here, we would provide a basic template that you can follow to budget for your kids’ back to school shopping. We have collected data from multiple online free resources such as the U.S. department of education, School Speciality, and department of education of California.

We have condensed all we have learned here, so you would know what you need for back-to-school shopping. You could also buy supplies for school as the public school teachers buy about 94% of the School supplies. You can evaluate the financial pressure on our public teachers. But, it really depends upon you.

We have also highlighted the main things your children would need for back-to-school suppliers. Our division for back-to-school supplies are classified into three main parts. The three main parts are elementary Schools, Middle School, and High School The detail is as follows:

2.1 Back to school supplies for elementary school

Elementary school is when your kids need all the help they can get from you. It is also the most stressful time for you too. As the kids this young seem to be unable to organize themselves and you have to make sure they have everything they need with them.

You also should pack your children’s bags lightly. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the weight of children’s bags should be not more than ten percent.

2.1.1 The supplies for elementary school kids

The supplies your children would require on the first day of back to school are shown in figure 1 below.

A detail cost analysis with all the required supplies is given below:

Organizational supplies: The only organization supply that you would need is one pocket folder per subject. So, let’s say that your kid has five subjects. So, he/ she would need five pocket folders. These pocket folders are for handouts. We have seen and compared prices for this product and we have found out it can cost anywhere between $9-$15.

So five pocket folders = 10×5=50 Dollars on the low side.

Stationary: A single loose-leafed ruled paper is alright for the first day. It can cost from anywhere between $8-$15. So, one would cost you:

One loose leafed ruled paper = $10

Writing Supplies: The writing supplies you would need is a single bag of pencil, a sharpener, an eraser and a ruler. The prices of these products can range from:

  • Pencil bag = $7- $17
  • Sharpener = $1 – $10
  • Eraser = $ 0.5 -$1
  • Ruler = $ 0.5 – $13

There are also some retailers who sell a combined writing supplies package that include a pencil bag, eraser, sharpener and ruler. This can cost from anywhere between $8 – $40. The higher range price is for higher quality packages.

Art Supplies: Elementary school children need a lot of art supplies. While elementary schools do provide art supplies to kids, it is always a good idea for children to have their own supplies. A single box of crayons and pencil crayons, glue, washable markers, and safety scissors. The costs of these supplies are:

  • Crayon box = $10 – $20
  • Pencil Crayon box = $13 – $25
  • Glue Sticks = $3- $5
  • Washable markers = $2 – $10
  • Safety scissors =$2 – $10

Storage:  Storage are things like backpacks, pencil storage boxes and boxes for art supplies. The price range of these products is as follows:

  • Backpacks = $24- $100
  • Pencil box = $ 1- $15
  • Box for art supplies = $ 15- $50

Lunch: If you are sending your kid with homemade lunch, then you have nothing to worry about the cost here.

2.1.2 Final Cost analysis of back to school supplies for elementary school children

The total cost of back-to-school supplies would be wary for the type of products that you choose but according to our calculations if you buy everything new the total cost would come to a range between $154- $ 400. Of course, the price range would fluctuate for the products you decide to buy and the cost of these school supplies from where you decide where to shop for back-to-school supplies.

2.2 Back to school supplies for Middle School

The elementary school children are now older and now it is time for them to go to Middle School. It is always difficult to deal with teenagers, especially if you are the parent of the teenager. They think that they do not need any help from you. But, now the middle schoolers have different supplies needed for their return to the school. So, you should make your budget according to that. Most probably they would not be requiring any art supplies. Figure 2 shows all the back-to-school supplies you need for middle schoolers below.

The details of cost and reasons are given in detail below:

Organization Supplies: One binder per subject and one pocket folder for handouts for each subject. Some binder dividers, a USB and a combination lock for lockers. Suppose an average student takes seven classes per semester in middle school. So, he/she would need seven binders and pocket folders for every subject. The cost range for each product in organization supplies is as follows:

  • Binders = 7 x $3 = $21
  • Pocket Folders = 7 x $10 = $70
  • USB = $5 – $24
  • Combination Lock = $3 – $20
  • Binder dividers = 7 x $1 = $7

Stationary Supplies: five to seven loose leaf ruled paper and graph paper books. Their cost is estimated below:

  • Loose leaf ruled paper = 5 x $10 = $50
  • Graph paper book = $6 – $16

Writing Supplies: You would need two highlighters of different colors, a package of pens, eraser, ruler, mini stapler, and pencil sharpener. Their costs are given below:

  • Highlighters = 2 x $4 = $8
  • Package of pens = $20 -$30
  • Eraser = $1 – $3
  • Ruler = $1 – $4
  • Mini Stapler = $2 – $10
  • Pencil Sharpener = $1 – $7

Subject Supplies: The subject suppliers are required for the specific subjects your kid plans to take in middle School.  For example, for math subjects such as algebra and geometry. So, a math kit with a calculator and maybe art supplies would also be required.

  • Math Kit + Calculator = $ 75- $500
  • Art supplies = $15 – $40

Storage Supplies: The storage supplies required would be a backpack and a lunchbox, if required.

  • Backpack = $24- $100
  • Lunch box = $8 – $15

2.2.1 Final cost analysis of back to school supplies for middle school children

A final total cost analysis put the value of back to school supplies for middle school at a range between $310- $1045. Of course, this is only a cost estimation and the real cost would depend upon where to shop for back to school supplies is decided.

2.3 Back to school supplies for high school

High school is the last step before your kids go off to college. The needs of a high school student are just a bit different, but almost the same, from that of a middle school student. The back to school supplies for high school students are given in figure 3 below:

Organization Supplies: One binder per subject and one pocket folder for handouts for each subject. Some binder dividers, a USB and a combination lock for lockers. Suppose an average student takes seven classes per semester in middle school. So, he / she would need seven binders and pocket folders for every subject. The cost range for each product in organization supplies is as follows:

  • Binders = 7 x $3 = $21
  • Pocket Folders = 7 x $10 = $70
  • USB = $5 – $24
  • Combination Lock = $3 – $20
  • Binder dividers = 7 x $1 = $7

Stationary Supplies: five to seven loose leaf ruled paper and graph paper books. Their cost is estimated below:

  • Loose leaf ruled paper = 5 x $10 = $50
  • Graph paper book = $6 – $16

Writing Supplies: You would need two highlighters of different colors, a package of pens, eraser, ruler, mini stapler, and pencil sharpener. Their costs are given below:

  • Highlighters = 2 x $4 = $8
  • Package of pens = $20 -$30
  • Eraser = $1 – $3
  • Ruler = $1 – $4
  • Mini Stapler = $2 – $10
  • Pencil Sharpener = $1 – $7

Subject Supplies: The subject suppliers are required for the specific subjects your kid plans to take in middle School. For example, for math subjects such as algebra and geometry. So, a math kit with a calculator and maybe art supplies would also be required.

  • Math Kit + Calculator = $ 75- $500
  • Art supplies = $15 – $40

Storage Supplies: The storage supplies required would be a backpack and a lunchbox, if required.

  • Backpack = $24- $100
  • Lunch box = $8 – $15

2.3.1 Final cost analysis of back to school shopping supplies for high school children

A final total cost analysis put the value of back-to-school supplies for high school at a range between $310- $1045. Of course, this is only a cost estimation and the real cost would depend upon where to shop for back-to-school supplies is decided.

3. Extra supplies

You can help out your kids by giving them some extra supplies such as:

  • Tissue papers = $3 – $15
  • Ice packs = $ 6- $16
  • Hand Sanitizer = $4 – $6
  • Bandages = $5 – $10

Hand Sanitizer is an important supply during Covid-19.

4. Grocery stores that offer the best prices for back to School shopping

There are many retail shops in the United States that offer a great discount for Back to School Shopping during the Summer Season. These all are listed below:

  1. Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart is the cheapest retailer/ grocery store in the U.S.A. It offers the greatest price discounts of any other retailers.
  2. Target: Target is a great retailer if you are looking for branded school supplies. You would probably get the branded stuff cheaper at Target.

3. Costco: Costco is a members only retailer. But, if you are a member you can save a lot of money by buying school supplies at scale. 

4. Amazon: Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the U.S.A. It offers you a variety of choice.

5. Some items that you should not buy and may have at home

There are some items that you may not need to buy at all if you already have them. You can also use replacements that may be available at home. Some recommendations are as follows:

Backpack: You may already have a backpack from the year before. There is nothing wrong in using that backpack if it is in good condition. The younger siblings can also use a hand me down from their elder siblings.

Lunchbox: A Lunchbox can be any box that is available. It just needs to be able to hold the lunch in its place.

Extra Supplies: Almost everything mentioned in the extra supplies like tissue papers, bandages, and hand sanitizers are available at home.

You can save a great amount of money if you substitute the products available at home.

Conclusion

You should prepare well beforehand for back-to-school shopping. You also need to know where to shop for back-to-school supplies. This is because if you do not know what the school supplies cost nowadays, you can overpay for the school supplies.

You can refer to the cost analysis above for elementary, middle and high school students to build a reference point. This can help you save money and also help you compare the cost of your shopping for back-to-school versus the average price for these supplies.

Obviously, doing this kind of budgeting can be daunting especially if you have several kids in the house.

For some extra money, there are plenty of side hustle opportunities out there to support your finances. If you need to verify your income from these side hustles and provide proof of income document, you can use paystubs.net to generate a paystub.

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