what did you spend on school supplies? - Mothering Forums
View Poll Results: What did you spend on school supplies (average per child)
under 15$ 4 9.76%
15-30 7 17.07%
30-45 4 9.76%
45-60 9 21.95%
60-75 7 17.07%
75-100 5 12.20%
100$ plus 5 12.20%
Voters: 41. You may not vote on this poll

Learning at School > what did you spend on school supplies?
purslaine's Avatar purslaine 04:48 PM 09-02-2011

I always enjoy reading these, so I am starting one!


What did you spend on school supplies?  Clothes do not count, but everything else does!


Poll time

earthmama369's Avatar earthmama369 06:14 PM 09-02-2011

DD didn't get a supply list this year (second grade), and DS's kindergarten teacher only asked for 4 large glue sticks. Apparently she did so many projects with the kids last year that the school cut her off from the glue supply in April. So she asked if we could send some extras in. *lol*


That only came to $8. I spent another $50 or so on things that we'll probably end up using around the house -- notebooks, crayons and markers, graph paper for games, things like that. I hit some really good sales so I stocked up for the next year or two. I also got each kiddo a pencil case and some new goodies to put it in for their backpacks.

whatsnextmom's Avatar whatsnextmom 06:38 PM 09-02-2011

We're looking at about 200 dollars on stuff the kids absolutely had to have for school this year but that's very unusual for us.


The major cost is the graphing calculator my high schooler needs. She's been making due with a scientific calculator and special math apps on her ipod but we can't really put off this calulator any longer. That was about 100 bucks. She needed some new dance items for P.E. She's at a performing arts school so it's very specific. Thankfully, most of her dance shoes were in good shape from last year and her feet didn't grow! Otherwise, she just needed some spirals. The high school doesn't have book fees and even covers all AP fees.... we're pretty lucky in that reguard!


DS started middle school so we had to purchase a P.E. uniform for 25 dollars. He spent another 25 on a big binder, dividers, spirals, new lunch box, P.E. combination lock and mechanical pencils.


Typically we get away with 30 or 40 dollars total for both the kids.

Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 09:03 PM 09-02-2011

My kids go to a school that has a supply fee and requires NO supplies. The supply fee was $40 per child.

Geofizz's Avatar Geofizz 05:12 AM 09-03-2011
WTM, I live in fear of that calculator. DD will need one next year. I hope to get the information soon enough that I can find a sale or some sort of discount.

For our public school, every kid has to pay a $25 materials fee, and gets an extensive supply list. They don't give you the supply list until the week before school, and then the conveniently hold a "supply sale" the Friday before school starts. If you have a job or otherwise can't get there, you can pay an extra $5 for them to pack it for you to be picked up that night. Can't get there? Pay an additional $5 to have them deliver it to the classroom. DD's 4th grade list would have been $48 through the supply sale. Her two intervention classes had their own lists, not available through the supply sale. Ds's kindergarten list was $29. So my total cost would have been well over $100, plus the fixed fees.

With planning (guessing at the lists) and reusing a few things (dd is really hard on her stuff) I got all 4 lists for $50. Add the $25 fee, that's an average of $50 per kid.

I fear next year. DD will straddle two schools...

Cheaper than private tuition, I keep reminding myself....

I don't count it as part of the total, but I have also donated glue to DS' class, band aids to DD's class, and a stash of non food rewards to each room. I collect this stuff through the year, so I'm not sure their total.
meetoo's Avatar meetoo 05:27 AM 09-03-2011

I polled under 15 per kid.   My kids public school provides everything they need. Their backpacks from last year were still fine so I just bought a few little things to put in their pencil boxes (box of crayons, few erasers etc.) and new lunch boxes. :D 

lauren's Avatar lauren 07:13 AM 09-03-2011

I spent just over $100 for 3 children. This didn't seem too bad this year.

Emmeline II's Avatar Emmeline II 11:58 AM 09-03-2011

I voted $60-70 but it was $138 total for just the school list for two children. The cashier thought it was a lot, so I think the regular public school list may be less (my children go to a charter which gets less money per pupil); iirc ds' regular ps K list was about $35. Ds is using the backpack I bought for him last year but couldn't use due to space issues in the classroom. Dd's backpack was about $18.


Then there are the uniforms. We are required to buy the shirt through the school ($18) and we find it much easier to have a uniform set for each day, so 5 shirts per child. But since Ds still fits his shirts from last year I haven't bought any for him yet, though even if he doesn't outgrow them they may fade too much to last the whole year. I buy their uniform pants through Target because their non-pleated pants are very sturdy, don't shrink, are waist adjustable, and long so I hem them and let down as necessary; it is likely that I won't have to replace their school pants at all this year--though I did buy 1 extra each jic because it costs twice as much to buy/ship the pants after the back-to-school season is over--luckily dd's pants were on sale.

NiteNicole's Avatar NiteNicole 06:10 AM 09-05-2011

$35 for the supply box the PTA does as a fund raiser and $10 for the book bag.  You can buy your own supplies, but it's more expensive - especially if your kid wants the character stuff.  Pretty much everyone buys the PTA box.  You can also buy your own book bag, but for kindy the size is pretty specific because they only have so much space.  The PTA also makes a little (very little) off the book bag and everyone seems to buy them.


The teachers have a wish listed posted of supplies to fill the gap - things like staplers, note pads, water colors.  I try to grab one item, more if I find them on sale, every week when I do my shopping.


It is TOTALLY reasonable, even compared to when I was in school.  I can remember being in 9th grade and thinking really?  Markers and scissors? 


Lunch supplies are costing a fortune. 

LauraLoo's Avatar LauraLoo 06:40 AM 09-05-2011

This was an unusual year for us since both dc's needed new lunch boxes and backpacks, so this puts us close to $100 altogether for just those things.  We typically get many years use out of these, and this is ds' first new backpack since K.  


My dd's teacher purchased most of the needed supplies for her class, and just asked for a $3 donation, in addition to bringing a few pencils, a pencil box and a 1/2" binder (which we had from last year, so could re-use,) and $4 in change that the class will use during math class this year.  I purchased some supplies for the classroom - kleenex, band aids, baggies, class snacks.


My ds was also able to re-use some of his stuff from last year, but needed new spiral notebooks, highlighters, post-its, pens & pencils, a "required" scientific calculator for math class, his band instrument (we are renting, but this will be $600 for the year all by itself) and a band book.



amma_mama's Avatar amma_mama 07:25 AM 09-05-2011
DD is in second grade and we spent about $55, including a few extra items for the classroom. We also recycled a few items from last year, such as scissors and a pencil box. So not too bad. I expect that I will have replenish some items, such as glue sticks, in the spring.
AllisonR's Avatar AllisonR 02:28 PM 09-05-2011

We spent money last year when DS started school. Backpack, pencil box, ruler, markers.... This year all that is the same, so I don't think we have spent a dime. No, I take that back; we bought a pencil sharpener and some pencils with a better grip on them (his teacher made a note he would benefit from them). So about 3-5 dollars. Next year DD also starts school - so then it will be some real money again. 

JollyGG's Avatar JollyGG 03:29 PM 09-05-2011

100+ but I donated a ton of stuff to our back to school supply drive. Probably 2/3 of it was donated, most to the drive plus some to the classrooms. Plus we got a lot of stuff for home for homework and crafts.

ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 09:06 AM 09-06-2011


$15 to 30 - they let me buy them some pens, and I bought DS a Moleskine dayplanner. For the past couple of years, they have really resisted buying new school supplies, and they mostly re-use stuff from the previous year. If it was up to me, we'd splurge at the office supply store. 


I did write a cheque for DD this morning for $150 for school fees. She attends a performing arts high school. The money supports their extra activities like drama productions, so not really "school supplies" like stationery items. I consider it money well spent and think we get off pretty lightly, given the quality of the educational experience she's getting.


We may also buy another laptop soon.  

philomom's Avatar philomom 09:08 AM 09-06-2011
Notebooks, paper and mechanical pencils... came up less than 30 dollars for two kids.
FarmerBeth's Avatar FarmerBeth 09:40 AM 09-06-2011

Wow, I think you guys can get school supplies more cheaply, or the lists aren't as bad or something.  Not even counting clothes, I still spent 225$ on three kids, so about 75$ each.  In the younger grads, the school bought the supplies in bulk for a 60$ fee each parent, and I wish they still did that not just over price, but convenience and not driving 80km to get them!

JollyGG's Avatar JollyGG 01:15 PM 09-06-2011

Originally Posted by FarmerBeth View Post

Wow, I think you guys can get school supplies more cheaply, or the lists aren't as bad or something.  Not even counting clothes, I still spent 225$ on three kids, so about 75$ each.  In the younger grads, the school bought the supplies in bulk for a 60$ fee each parent, and I wish they still did that not just over price, but convenience and not driving 80km to get them!

I do really shop the sales. It's the only way I can afford to both get my kids what they need for school and our home and still have lots to donate. I did the Staples 0.01 sales, I checked the adds, etc.

Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 04:28 PM 09-06-2011

I didn't count clothes, lunch box, etc. Partly because my children require clothing whether or not they attend school, and partly because we didn't purchase any new lunchboxes, backpacks, etc. (buying quality does have an up side!)


I figured "school supplies" meant things like paper, binder, crayons, kleenix, etc.

loraxc's Avatar loraxc 08:02 AM 09-07-2011
I spent about $40 this year. DD was previously at a charter where supplies were closer to $100 a year.
FarmerBeth's Avatar FarmerBeth 03:28 PM 09-07-2011

I did count lunch cases and back packs, so that's probably some of why the higher price.  We were lucky to have one out of three back packs make it for a three year span, but it got upgraded to one with more compartments.  I really have a hard time keeping things with zippers in good condition in our house!

MCatLvrMom2A&X's Avatar MCatLvrMom2A&X 04:31 PM 09-07-2011
Between the 2 kids I spent approx. $30. each so I answered $60-75 Public school dd is in 4th and ds is in 1st.

2 back packs

The kids get free back packs and a few items through Mission Of Hope but they prefer to get a back pack of their choice so I buy them one each.
ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 07:42 AM 09-08-2011


Came back to revise my answer a little. DD realized she needed a couple of extra notebooks and her binders were pretty beaten up, so last night we picked up a few. Along with a fresh pack of crayons, just because....


Total back-to-school supplies are still less than $100 combined for both kids, and then the $150 school activity fee. I won't even touch on DS's costs for university (he's been haunting the used book store and looking on-line too).

FarmerBeth's Avatar FarmerBeth 07:45 AM 09-08-2011

I am now starting to be really sure that lists for our kids are different.  Keep in mind that when the school bought supplies in the early grades (no backpacks or lunch bags, included), we still paid 60$ for bulk buying by the teacher.  My youngest child alone needed 8(!) packages of crayons, two pairs scissors, 12 scribblers, 2 binders, loose leaf, four packs of ten pencils, markers, colored pencils, paint brushes, ruler, 3 erasers, white glue, 2 boxes Kleenex, it goes on and on!  My older kids don't need the repeat crayons, but then we had to get into calculators, math sets, more binders, duotangs and paper. Then there is an additional 10$ supply fee (agenda,extra duotangs) This is a public school, and actually it ran cheaper than their old city school before we moved (there, we were also looking at flash drives).  This year we had an additional fee for bussing. extracurriculars, etc, and it's mandatory.  I am generally very happy about where I live and not particularly jealous, but wow!  Many of you seem to have both lower prices and shorter lists.  No amount of sale shopping or careful saving of previous year's supplies could get me down to some of these figures!  I would love to hear from other Canadians on this!  Is it just my province (I've worked a lot with parents and schools so I can tell I'm right about this province, at least.

annethcz's Avatar annethcz 07:36 PM 09-08-2011

$30 shared supplies fee/child at our charter elementary school. 


I only needed to buy one backpack this year, but I'll need to replace lunchboxes for all 4 of my kids soon.  I also needed to buy each child a folder and make sure they had gym shoes.  I'm not sure I consider any of those things exclusively "school" supplies since all of my kids had backpacks, lunchboxes and sneakers when we were homeschooling....

claras_mom's Avatar claras_mom 04:22 PM 09-13-2011
So far, the PTA in our very small school pays for school supplies. I don't count backpacks, btw--we use them anyway. That said, it's more of a convenience, as they do ask for a (voluntary) contribution for each child which goes not only toward supplies, but also field trips, science camp, specialists, etc. I guess the main thing is that I don't have to shop myself, and the upfront contribution cuts down on fundraising activities.
muldey's Avatar muldey 07:03 PM 09-15-2011

I'm not sure what I spent,maybe $40 for both kids.That's with lots of extras,I did the sales,my dad and I were laughing because we went into Office Max and each spent 3 cents,and came out with 3 packs of filler paper each.I bought a lot of other things for 5,10 and 25 cents each.At the beginning of the summer we went to Spencer's at the mall,and they had boxes of backpacks for $5 each.They were regular $60!Dd got a Linkin Park one,and ds a Transformers.They each also received 3(!) backpacks for free,one from a free yard sale at a local church,that one was filled with supplies,one from the Back to School Celebration(we live in a city with a very high low income population,and this event has the parents go through lots of tables which have info about resources available in the city before the kids get their backpacks) which had a few notebooks and pens and pencils(also recieved a free cell phone with 90 minutes a month for me,since we receive assistance,which I gave to ds as my mom pays for dd and my cells),and another one from another celebration at the park up the street,these were VERY nice and had some supplies,a book,and a very nice lunch bag.2 were surprises,we didn't expect the yard sale one or the one at the park.The yard sale one and the back to school ones will wear out very quickly,last year ds went through 4 similar ones.But it's awesome that they give them out!The lunch bags we'll most likely donate,as both kids get free lunch.Ds is bussed for free as it's in his IEP,and my mom brings dd to school and her best friend's mom brings her home,and will not accept gas money.I bought some tissues for both schools,and will buy some supplies off ds's teacher's wish list when I have the money.Neither school has a specified list of needed supplies per child,so I just bought what I thought they would go through.


The uniforms are a whole other matter!!I don't like them at all.Usually I buy their clothes at Salvation Army or yard sales for under $2 each,but they didn't have any uniform styles and colors in their sizes.So even though I went as cheap as possible(dd ended up with $12 boys pants from Target,as I couldn't find any girls or juniors for under $20!),I still spent way more than I usually would have.I don't understand how they passed this rule,the parents were not asked,neither were the students.In a city with such a high low income population,it wouldn't have passed had we had our say.Maroon,black or grey tees or polos,black or khaki pants,no hooded sweatshirts,no cargo pants,plain black,white,or brown shoes,no designs or characters allowed.I also had to travel quite a bit to find these items,as everything local was sold out.Thankfully I have my parents,as we don't have a car.Some I even had to have my dad order online!Usually I only buy new undies,socks,and shoes,and always as cheap as possible.Shoes were $70 for the 2 kids,and that was at Payless's buy one get one half off!There were many cheaper styles my dc liked better,but they weren't uniform style.Ugg.The uniforms ended up costing me over $200,which does include the shoes,but that is still way too much for me.At least they mostly share shirts,and I was able to find some boys grey tees for about $3 each on clearance at a Target that is fairly far away.I bought all 4 they had.

limabean's Avatar limabean 10:47 AM 10-13-2011

My DS's supplies came to $28. I'm only counting the stuff from the school supply list -- I'm not including stuff like backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, etc., all of which we reused from last year.