OUR VIEWS: Big back-to-school budget

Sep 5, 2012


The average amount spent for back-to-school shopping is $688 per child each year. No, that’s not a typo.

Here’s the astonishing breakdown:

— $548 spent per year per elementary school student.

—$724 per middle school student.

— $1,117 per high school student.

Sure, a portion of that total goes toward the sometimes lengthy, required supply list provided by the school. But the majority of that three-digit figure goes toward things not on that list — shoes, jeans, shirts, accessories, backpacks and electronics.

How did we get to the point where we spend more than $500 per child shortly before the leaves fall each year? No doubt our society has placed materialistic expectations on our children. They want name-brand items, and plenty of them.

We’re not naive. We understand that it’s typical for them to want these things. Heck, most of us feel the urge to keep up with the Joneses from time to time.

Let’s just hope those footing the students’ big back-to-school bills are not just forking over the money freely.

Let’s hope the children’s providers — whether it’s a parent, other relative or guardian — are utilizing this situation to teach their school-age child some basic life skills. Namely, the good old-fashioned value of the dollar.

These amounts of money spent may not be a financial strain to every family. But regardless of household income, the amount of education the student can gain through this is priceless.

Allow your child to exercise budgeting skills. Have them set school shopping goals, and develop a plan on how to attain those goals.

Then comes the best part: Have them work toward those goals. It can be extra chores, community service, doing good deeds — anything above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilities.

Our goal as parents should be to allow our children to experience the process of actively earning, as opposed to passively receiving.

A dose of reality goes a long way. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enrich the life of a name-brand-craving student.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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