School supplies: Convenience is costly

Much to my daughter's dismay, it is time to start preparing for the upcoming school year.  Part of this ritual involves buying school supplies. This year, her school offered pre-packaged supply kits that were customized to her teacher's specifications.  The school receives $3 for every kit purchased.

Since I'm not a huge fan of fighting 10-year-olds for the last glue stick at the big box store, I was ready to take advantage of this offer – until I noticed that the cost of one kit was $80.  I was just certain I could properly supply her for school for much less.  So armed with the list, I headed to the store.

School Supply List

  • 3 dozen #2 pencils, sharpened
  • 6 blue ballpoint pens
  • 6 black ballpoint pens
  • 6 red ballpoint pens
  • 1 box markers, assorted colors (8 ct.)
  • Assorted markers and highlighters
  • 1 box colored pencils (8 ct.)
  • 1 box crayons (24 ct.)
  • 1 ream of white copy paper (500 ct.)
  • 10 pocket folders with 3 prongs, mixed colors
  • 2 packs wide-ruled lined notebook paper (200 sheets each)
  • 1 6" Big Kid Scissors, Ages 8+
  • 1 bottle of glue (4 oz.)
  • 1 washable glue stick
  • 2 packages Expo marker (4 ct.)
  • 1 foaming anti-bacterial soap
  • 1 box tissues
  • 5 Mead composition books
  • 1 zipper pencil pouch with 3 holes
  • 1 pack lined index cards (3 x 5)
  • Large binder (Optional)
  • 1 roll paper towels
  • 1 box plastic bags (either sandwich, quart or gallon size)

The result?  The total cost of my daughter's school supplies was $54.97 – 31 percent less than the cost of the prepackaged kit.  That's without comparison shopping or coupons. 

Now, instead of the $3 that was going to be donated to the school, I can donate the $25.03 I saved by spending a little bit of time to shop for supplies myself.  As a bonus, my daughter got to participate by choosing her favorite color notebooks and folders. 

What do you think?  Is the convenience of pre-packaged back-to-school supply kits worth the cost? 

 

 

 

 

You might also enjoy reading:

Back-to-school scavenging: Smart or a little sad?
Frugal back-to-school shopping tips
Frugal tips ease back-to-school expenses

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.