Thursday, September 9, 2010

Frugalista Goes Back to School

I think it would have been a much better idea to start working from a budget in October.  Or February. Or after the kids move out.

Here's how the back to school shopping went:
JTM: goes to Bay seventeen times - each time buys five items and returns four. All AMAZING must-have items, of course, and incredible clearance-priced at something like 99% off the lowest ticketed price. Net items purchased: about sixteen.

In his defense, he needs to look good for work (with all due respect to his scholarly colleagues, rugby pants and a pilled sweater, even it was a really good woolen one you got at Harrods back in '73, doesn't instill trust and respect in your students, cause they will judge you by your appearance, oh yes they will) and he's about five sizes smaller this year than last - there wasn't much salvageable in the back-to-school wardrobe.

Kid 2: Needs a hoodie with a proper brand name, shoes with a proper brand name, a t-shirt bearing the logo of a surf or skateboard company, ankle socks, several matching pens, a new binder that zips up, and a lunch bag that magically transforms meals of all sizes into a tiny  pellet that will fit into the smallest corner of his  (not new thank God) backpack.

Kid 1: Wonders if there is a spare binder kicking around the house somewhere, and gathers up a pitiful handful of eraser-less pencil-ends and schwag pens that may or may not work. Oh, but soandso and whatshisname and someotherguy want to stay for dinner again tonight. Man teen boys can hoover it up - we should just feed them platefuls of five-dollar bills.

And all the menfolk needed haircuts. Oh, and bus passes.  Did I mention bus passes?

But we managed somehow, and we're all fresh-scrubbed, neatly trimmed and off to school with our various new and used back-to-school costumes and paraphenalia.

And then the forms come home - about a dozen forms per kid, and each form is asking for money: deposits for books and locks, activity fees, lunch programs, band uniforms, teachers mental health fund contribution, composting fee, fee collection handling fee, and so on.

So there I was in the grocery store last night, trying to decide between mayonnaise and tuna, heart breaking for people who have to make these decisions each and every day.  How stressful must it be for many families to get their kids ready to go back to school each fall.  It's a time that should be so exciting and hopeful, when everyone should get to make a fresh start on a level playing field.  And it's just not that way.

P.S. I absolutely did not forget about myself.  I got this fall's must-have items: a purple sweater and a skinny belt, and a bang trim.  I'm all set!

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