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It’s time to get ready for back to school How to fit the cost of ‘back to school’ in your budget

Posted in Spending & Managing Money on July 1, 2019

It seems the summer just got started and it’s time to talk about going back to school. Over the next few weeks, parents and their students will be getting ready for the first day of the school year. As a parent, have you ever thought about what it really costs to get your kids back to school?

The National Retail Federation reported that parents will spend about $26.5 billion on their kids going back to school supplies for the 2019-2020 school year with an average of $669.25 per child, up from $634.78 from last year’s average. Kindergarten and elementary school is the lowest but as your child gets older and begins the next chapter of their school career, the supplies and costs tend to increase. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to school supplies in the coming year.

Elementary School

In general, kindergarten and elementary lists will include items for the individual child to use throughout the school year and some that will be shared within the classroom. While each school’s supply list may be a little bit different, you can expect to provide your child with some basic necessities such as a sturdy backpack, paper, notebooks, pencils, erasers, Fiskars blunt scissors, crayons, glue and glue sticks, highlighters, and markers. Shared classroom supplies usually include things like tissues, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, paper towels, dry erase markers, and assorted sizes of Ziploc bags.

Middle School

Supplies for middle schoolers tend to get a little more expensive with the addition of technology and include items such as a basic or scientific calculator, binders, notebook paper, composite notebooks, paper, graph paper, pencils, pens, colored pencils, markers, and a small dictionary/thesaurus. Shared classroom supplies may also still be included on the list as well. Agendas to keep up with assignments and projects are usually available for purchase at the school.

High School

By the time your student gets to high school, supplies list are usually up to the student unless dictated by a specific class and noted on the class syllabus. For example, a food science class may require a lab coat and special nonslip shoes in addition to the usual notebook and writing instruments, so each student should read the class syllabus carefully. Computers or laptops are a generally used for performing research, writing papers, and taking notes.


It’s important to note that many of the area school systems offer the use of computers to students. Keep in mind that because these computers are school property, students aren’t allowed to personalize the computers with stickers and the like. Also, there is usually a fee for damaged, lost, and stolen items. Check your school’s website to see if a computer program is offered and for the details.


In addition to school supplies, parents should also think about what their child will do for lunch. Will he or she bring their own lunch or will they purchase school lunches. If purchasing lunches at school, you’ll want to include the amount needed in the child’s lunch account in your budget. Many schools provide lunchroom policies on their website, so make sure to visit your child’s school website if you have any questions.

Transportation and the big yellow bus

One final thing to think about before the new school year is how your child will get to and from school. When children first begin their school career, many are often excited by the idea of riding the big yellow school bus, but by the time high school rolls around, the school bus is no longer as cool as it once was. In addition, many extracurricular activities and afterschool programs have them scrounging around for rides. If your child has a driver’s license, it could be that having their own car may make life and transportation much easier.

The bottom line is don’t let school expenses take a bite out of your finances. Include what you can in your budget, and if you need a little help with some of the bigger purchases, like buying your child a laptop or a car, CDC Federal Credit Union may be able to help get your child ready for back to school with a personal loan or a car loan. For more information, visit

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