Back to School Shopping

. August 29, 2014.

I am exhausted, and so is my credit card.

I didn’t take an exotic vacation anywhere, or redecorate my house. Instead, I participated in the summer tradition that parents everywhere dread: Back To $chool $hopping.

In my day – ahem – we would show up with a couple notebooks, pencils and high hopes. Now most lower grades have very specific lists, and the upper grades have very expensive lists. I am not even sure what a graphing calculator does, but I know it is ten times more expensive than the one my freshman used for the last three years.

Complicating matters is my freshman who needed clothes. Certainly she has enough to clothe her body, but that’s not the point. After nine years in school uniforms, she needs CLOTHES.  Jeans, tops and sneakers top the list. Oh, and black dress pants and a white shirt for concerts, as well as a homecoming dress and shoes.

We’ve done pretty well shopping sales and clearance racks. She said yes to a homecoming dress that was a screaming deal – my favorite kind.

Several pairs of jeans were found on deep discount. After examining her closet, and consulting the school dress code, we bought a few pairs of longer shorts that were on sale.  I think I spent more on her sneakers than the rest of the items combined. After many years of not having to pay attention, I was shocked at the prices – and, frankly, the trashiness – of a lot of junior clothing. When even your 14-year-old says something is too tight or too short, it’s time to shop somewhere else.

Shopping for school supplies was easier. In my family we have “summits” on important situations so we can get pro/con lists, supply lists, etc., before venturing out. That’s the kind of Type A, hyper-organized gal I am. Our school supply summit came up with a list that was basic yet specific for her first year of high school. Subjects were color-coded and binders were sized accordingly. I swallowed hard and bought that calculator, but at least she can use it through college.

School supplies were easier for my sixth grader. We worked off a very specific list that allowed for some variations in color and style. She is still in uniforms and thankfully is wearing her older sister’s. But anyone who thinks uniforms save a lot of money apparently doesn’t have children. Sure, they wear uniforms eight hours a day – but unless they stay in uniforms until bedtime and wear them on weekends, they still need other clothes.

Off to the store we went to get a few things she could wear during her downtime and for church.

I thought about adding it all up when I was done, but I was too scared. August has turned out to be the ugly month for expenses and I’m sure it will just get worse from here. I think the economies of Findlay, Toledo, Perrysburg, Cincinnati and New York State owe me thank you notes.

Now, in September, the tags are off and the supplies are labeled. Both girls are in school, and the house is quiet. I am staying out of stores, and my credit card is taking some time off.

We both can use a break.