I love seeing the school supplies in the stores. I look forward to it every year because that's when I can restock my folder collection for my Folder Organization System and get more mechanical pencils because all of ours go wandering as soon as they are free from their case. I can also stock up on glue sticks or other supplies that we use during the year that are inexpensive for this brief period in time and then skyrocket in cost until next year. My favorite thing about this time of year is getting to decide for myself what supplies we need. I have never been part of the school system, so I've never had the fun of shopping for specific items on a list for each child, but I have seen these lists and shudder to think at the cost. I can get my whole curriculum and all supplies for less than the national average of what is spent on school supplies and back to school clothes and gear. So for those of you considering homeschooling but hesitant to do it because of cost, think about all these up front costs each school year and realize that you can be saving a lot of money on the homeschool path. And that doesn't even take into account the costs for school lunches or lunch supplies all year, field trips that pop up, and year end teacher gifts.
I do have to say that each year I tend to overbuy because I love school supplies that much. Highlighters and colored pencils and markers and watercolors are so tempting! That compulsion can eliminate some of the money saving benefits to homeschooling. But this year I have behaved by taking a detailed inventory of supplies on hand before browsing the glorious back to school aisles, making a specific list, and then staying away from that section as much as possible until the aisles switch to Halloween. Make sure you try to set aside a little money for clearance Halloween goodies. It's a great time to stock up on an often overlooked school supply--dual purpose candy (some for mom for the tough days and some to be used for occasional bribes).