School Shopping List: Pencils, Notebooks and, Oh Yeah, Your Own Toilet Paper

Filed under: In The News, Education: Big Kids, Education: Teens


Children in Sterling, Colo., will be heading off for another year of school next week. Batteries not included.

The school district in the town of 12,000 is feeling a little run down -- financially speaking -- and is asking parents to add batteries to their back-to-school shopping lists.

Oh, and some hand sanitizer and envelopes would be great, too.

Sterling's local newspaper, the Journal-Advocate, reports times are hard in the northeast corner of Colorado near the Nebraska border, and students also are being asked to pay for class newspapers and bring their own tissues and plastic baggies.

Of course, it's not just Sterling. Across the country, NBC News reports, parents are being asked to help provide cash-strapped school districts with everything from cotton balls to bathroom tissue.

"Principals are having to make decisions between textbooks and toilet paper," Barbara Chester, of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, tells NBC's "Today." "Unfortunately, the lists are looking a lot different than they used to."

The problem is that school districts may be poking through couch cushions looking for loose change, but parents are, as well, and kids keep getting more and more expensive.

The average American family will spend $606.40
on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics this year, according to the National Retail Federation's 2010 Consumer Intentions and Actions Back to School survey.

The survey, conducted by BIGresearch, shows that dollar amount is up from $548.72 last year.

Total spending on school-aged children this year, according to the survey, is expected to reach $21.35 billion. And that doesn't even include the toilet paper.

Screaming into your pillow yet? The National Foundation for Credit Counseling offers a little comfort. Here are some of its suggestions for taking a little of the sting out of back-to-school shopping:

  • Take stock of what you have at home and don't really need to buy.
  • Remember that kids grow quickly. When shopping for clothes, look for articles of clothing that are basic and never go out of style. Purchase items that allow children to grow into them.
  • Buy in bulk. Buying in large quantities can save you money in the long run. If the quantity is too large, see if you can split the cost and the items with another parent.
  • Avoid the parking lot and shop online. Stores often put their best sales online and it's a great way to compare prices. However, beware of identity theft and credit card fraud.
  • Hang on to receipts. Return items that don't fit or won't get used. Be aware of the return policy, as some stores put a limit on how long you can wait before returning an item.
  • Delay if you can. You don't need to buy everything before school starts. Once children see what others are using and wearing, they always seem to have some new ideas about what they need.
Related: Back to School Countdown Calendar

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.