From bulletin board borders to math manipulatives, from novels to pens and pencils. There is no doubt about it: teaching can be expensive! Some teachers have the luxury of receiving money from the school to help pay for classroom necessities; but with on-going budget cuts, those reimbursed school purchases may be a thing of the past. While most teachers don’t get reimbursed for out-of-pocket purchases, they do take into consideration that their classroom is a home-away-from-home and want it to look comfortable and have character.
Budgeting Tip: Whether this is your first year teaching or you have been teaching for eons, being prepared to buy school supplies with your own money is nearly inevitable. The more prepared you are with your supply lists and finances, the smoother the purchasing will be.
The word “budget” (kind of like the word “exercise”), is one of those words that you know is important, but at the same time can be very daunting. Just like budgeting for groceries, mortgage, water and electricity, it is important that teachers budget for school supplies that they’ll be paying for with their own hard-earned dollars.
We would recommend that you start budgeting and saving for those back-to-school purchases as early as possible. Most teachers won’t have the money to pay for all of their supplies in one transaction unless they save specifically for school supplies (let alone for all of those cute decor items from Hobby Lobby that you might be dying to have).
Create Your List
The first step will be to create a list of school-related expenses that you envision purchasing. Just like going grocery shopping, lists can save a lot of time and unwanted spending. Supply lists will differ from teacher to teacher, depending on grade level, teaching subject and other factors. They may also differ based on each teacher’s preference for decorating, classroom management and personal philosophy.
There are many blogs out there with general lists of classroom supplies and they can be a great starting point if you’re struggling or want ideas. What’s important is how personal this experience is for you; how personal this list of supplies is for your classroom.
We know it may look overwhelming, but if you put effort into budgeting ahead of time, the actual purchasing part will be more enjoyable. Again, keep in mind that everything is dependent upon your current situation. A lot of schools provide the necessities for teachers, like tape, staples, stapler, pens, pencils. Most schools require their students to come to school with supplies of their own.
Budgeting Tip: Upon completing your list, go back over it with a highlighter to clearly label your NEEDS vs. your WANTS. These can easily begin to blend together, and while we hope you have the budget to cover it all, this is not usually the case. When it comes to purchasing, you will likely have to prioritize.
After you’ve created your list and likely costs, the next step would be to communicate with your principal to see what the school provides for you. The most beneficial meeting would take place in person, so make sure you schedule a meeting time prior to doing any back-to-school shopping.
When you do meet with your principal, take your list with you and make notes on what the school provides and more importantly, WHEN the school provides it. Will the items be accessible all year round or will you be responsible for re-stocking? Is it something that the school has to order and how long does that process take? In other words: hold your principal accountable to his or her word. Keep those notes somewhere safe!
Well, it’s time for shopping! If you’d like to learn how to purchase your school supplies smartly and efficiently, read on to our next blog dedicated to guiding you through all of your teaching finances.
Want to start earning FREE supplies for your classroom? ClassTag is a free, easy-to-use collaborative platform that lets teachers effortlessly engage with parents and earn ClassTag Coins when parents and teachers communicate, volunteer, or attend school events like parent-teacher conferences. Teachers can then take those ClassTag coins to purchase much-needed supplies. Explore ClassTag today!