“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I love hearing that song on the Staples commercial as the dad tosses school supplies into the cart while his two children look like they’re walking to their execution. Back-to-school also means back to routine, and this family likes routine.
We’ve already received Cordy’s school supplies list in the mail, and I’m amazed at all the stuff she needs to have for the first day. Glue sticks, hand soap, box of tissues, notebooks, liquid glue, baby wipes, backpack — and this is just for Pre-Kindergarten!
Of course, thanks to all of the Miracle Gro and bovine growth hormone we feed her, she also needs a whole new wardrobe for the school year, too. (Amazon child.) While I am once again employed, the paychecks have only started to roll in, meaning they’re flying out to pay bills just as quickly. But she needs the clothing, so she’ll have it.
When I was a kid, money was always tight at back-to-school time, too. I wanted the “cool” sneakers that the popular kids had, and I resented that my mom fought me on every fashionable clothing choice. Back-to-school shopping was always a battle, and not just for clothing — who wants a no-name folder organizer when you could have the hip Trapper Keeper in all the fashionable colors?
My mom eventually thought of a way to end the battle. She told me at the beginning of August how much money I had for clothing and supplies, and I could buy anything up to that amount. The clothing budget was kept separate from the supplies budget, and anything that the teacher required us to have (like the box of tissues) was not included.
This meant I had to learn to use my money wisely. I could have a few new items that were high-fashion, or I could shop for cheaper items that maybe weren’t as cool. It only took one season for me to learn my lesson: I blew the majority of my fall budget on a pair of Guess jeans, and while those jeans were awesome, I couldn’t wear them everyday. I got tired of wearing last year’s worn jeans and tops, all because I had to have that one pair of incredibly expensive jeans.
We’re not at a point where Cordy cares about her clothing. She rarely notices what she wears, and almost never complains about what clothing I pick for her. So until that point, I’ll continue to do my best to buy as much as I can for the least amount possible, shopping sales, consignment stores, and accepting hand-me-downs, all while still trying to give her some sense of style. Eventually, she’ll want a say, and at that time I’ll present her with the rule I followed. She’ll be given a budget, and can pick what she needs as long as it fits in her budget.
Cordy really has no sense of money yet, either, although not for lack of trying to teach her. She is starting to learn that we can’t always buy her what she wants, and that some things cost more money than what we have. I’m sure we’ll have that money talk when we go pick out a backpack for her this year. She always seems drawn to the most expensive blinged-out backpack, when I know she’ll drag it on the ground, get it filthy, and spill something sticky inside of it before the first month is over. A simple backpack is better because I know the abuse it will take.
Do you set a limit on your child’s back-to-school spending? Do you have a fixed amount, or do you allow some wiggle-room in picking out supplies and clothing? I’m curious to know how other parents handle the back-to-school routine, since we’re still fairly new at this.
And I’ll have you know I wore those Guess jeans until they had holes in the knees, and then made shorts out of them and wore them until they were no longer decent clothing. I think I even considered cutting off the little triangle patch and keeping it after that.