The National Retail Federation estimates that the average family spends just over $600 on back-to-school stuff. I'm not entirely sure that this is accurate. I feel it grossly underestimates the purchases of most families, especially if they have more than two children, and especially if these were purchases the families would have made anyway, but waited for "back-to-school time." Certainly you'll buy that laptop during tax-free weekend when the stores are competing for your business as well.
If you homeschool year-round, you know exactly what I mean. No sane person is going to buy the same notebook for $2.49 that she can get during the August sales for a nickel, or maybe even four cents with the free OfficeMax teacher card. Was your purchase inspired by "back-to-school," or did you just do a little planning and/or "impulse buy" that whopping four-penny notebook?
And really, there's no point buying a new T-shirt for the summer barbeque cookout or berry-picking spree. For the most part, summer clothes are more than casual, at least in my family. They're downright grubby-looking. The Federation (live long and prosper) includes back-to-school clothes purchases AND electronics in its estimate of school supply spending. I don't live in a rich neighbourhood, and I've seen what the teens are wearing to the high school, and $600 isn't even going to cover their shoes and cell phones for the year.
I bought new sneakers for Elf and Emperor, as well as socks and underwear for all the children during the sales. At least for my homeschoolers, these purchases weren't inspired by my wanting children to look kewl at the bus stop. The simple fact of the matter is that once you get up around men's size 8, the sneakers and other shoes get soooo nasty by the time they're outgrown (Patrick and G are now size 13/14 depending on brand) that they can no longer truly be passed down or even given away to the local thrift store. We have a few pairs of grubby sandals from the older boys, and a few pairs of winter boots in the larger sizes. The other stuff, including socks, just doesn't make it. Somewhere between the sweltering heat of summer and the snowdrifts of winter, the middle guys need to wear shoes on occasion.
But my point being, the Federation is likely including my recent purchase in its "back-to-school spending" tally.
What do we really actually SPEND on the "back-to-school" stuff? We'll address that in Part II.