Today, my Glass Slipper goes to Kindergarten.
I have many feelings about this. Sadness, because my baby is not such a baby anymore. Excitement for her to meet more kids her age and start forming enriching friendships. Hope that she will try her hardest and learn so much. But mostly, I feel relief.
Relief that I am done with Back to School shopping.
Oh my gosh you guys, what a SLOG. And you’re telling me I have to do this for another 11 years?? And that’s just for one kid! I have two whole other kids, just hanging around my house, waiting to go to school so I can hunt down dry erase markers and white erasers.
This was my first rodeo, so admittedly there were some learning curves. I’ve already taken some of y’alls advice and printed out NEXT year’s list, so when clearance times rolls around I can stock up then and have a much easier time in the fall.
But there were so many things I didn’t know I didn’t know. I was so excited to grab 12 count Staples pencils for $.50 a box. $1 for pencils! I was killing this Back to School thing. But no! After I shared my joy, many SavEars gently warned me. While store brand will do for some things, but pencils? Pencils are not something you want to mess around with.
Being naive, I thought, “They’re just pencils, guys.”
Then I went to sharpen said pencils.
Guess who went to school with 23 sharpened pencils instead of 24?
You better believe I tried to get name brand after that. Pencilgate scared me straight. Normally, when I think “name brand” I think “pricier”, but in some cases, evidently in school supplies, it will mean better quality. And that’s what we all want for our teachers and students, right? The best quality. But how to get that best quality at the store brand prices?
I’m no expert (see above) but maybe it’s possible. It’s just a matter of shopping the long game instead of trying to get a burst of shopping done all at once. Example: I needed a 1 inch binder in a solid color. I got it at Target for $1.85. Hooray. The next week, even though Back to School shopping was still happening, I saw the same binders were over $3. The trick of the game is shopping week to week, checking out sales, knowing that supply list by heart. So really, it’s no different than my other favorite type of shopping: clearance shopping. It’s all about endurance.
A friend of mine asked recently, “why not just get the pre-assembled supply kits you can get through school?” A valid question. So I thought we could look at the numbers and see if they make sense. Because let’s be real here, I miss my Glass Slipper so much and I’m trying to stay busy. You know it’s bad if I am willingly like, “let’s do the maths!”
My supply list, with what I paid for each item.
- 24 pencils, sharpened, yellow, #2-$1. I know, I know. Never again.
- 4 boxes Crayola Crayons, 24 count-$2.
- 2 white erasers-$1.89. I got the four count. Two count seems like a myth.
- Blunt Tip Scissors-$.81. I got these last year on clearance, on a whim.
- 4 black, low odor board dry erase markers-$3.79
- 4 any color low odor skinny dry erase markers-$3.31.
- 1 heavy duty ring binder-$1.85.
- Red Plastic folder-$.50.
- 2 boxes of tissues-$2.58.
- Post Its-$2.27. 4 pack of Up & Up.
- Ziploc Baggies:-$0. In my gigantic multi pack I bought at Costco last year.
- Art Box-$5.69. More on this in a minute.
Total Spent: $25.69.
The kit that could be purchased through school was $42, so I saved around 40%! Now I will say, after the multiple trips and the schlepping and the constant quest to determine what an art box actually is, do I think the $42 would be worth it to some parents? ABSOLUTELY. But for me, I couldn’t justify not checking out the Back to School stuff when I spend as much time as I do at Target playing with toys. If saving yourself some stress and enjoying those last few weeks of summer is a high priority, it might be worth budgeting the kit into your Back to School expenses. But if you’re like me and the thrill of the chase is half the fun, the savings are nothing to sneeze at.
I’d like to end with my tale of the art box. I have been wondering, for almost a month now, what an art box was. I did not have an art box in school, so the concept is baffling to me. The Glass Slipper’s school kindly provided the measurements for the art box I was to acquire and…clearly there was some sorcery going on or we got an enchanted supply list or something because THESE SIZE LIMITS DO NOT EXISIT. I have been to every store, every website, used every search term imaginable and nothing matches these numbers. Repeat. Nothing.
I brought my plight to another Kindergarten mother who agreed that we were on a wild goose chase and said, “I just bought a Sterlite pencil case at Target. It’s close enough to what they wanted.” Cool, an easy out. Only, by the time I got to Target, all the cheap pencil cases were gone and I was left with my choice of expensive ones. This pencil case, excuse me, “art box” was 1/4 of the total dollars I spent. One item. What did I tell you about those learning curves?
Bring on Back to School Clearance so I can get going for next year. My goal is 50% savings!
How do you do your Back to School shopping? Is it already done? What’s your favorite part of back to school?
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!