Back to school shopping often involves a lot of begging, crying and compromise. Your children will undoubtedly beg for brand-name pencils, expensive backpacks and other ‘necessary’ items that you’re sure they can live without. Of course, there are times when you’ll give in and other times when you will just have to say no. It’s all part of the joy of parenting. But when you’re evaluating when to give in and when to stand your ground, consider the list below which includes some of the most impractical back to school products ever invented. Trust me.
It doesn’t matter whether you get your sandwich keeper from the dollar rack at Target or spend more on one that will keep your kid’s lunch hermetically sealed. It will only take a week or two for your child to lose the sandwich keeper or for you to find it hiding at the bottom of her backpack with an indistinguishable lunch caked into every corner. Do yourself a favor and invest in sandwich bags. For under 3 cents per bag you can find Ziploc-style bags that will block spills. For even less you can find fold-and-close style bags that I used as a kid (without many mishaps, I might add). As an added plus, you won’t need to wash them nightly. And, of course, you won’t cry when they don’t make it home from school, as you would with your child’s sandwich keeper.
Let’s face it – even adults can barely figure out how to open these contraptions. Children can seldom use them independently, and even if you can get 40 for $1, they’re hardly worth the money. In cases where simple paper clips won’t do the trick, consider using staples or a folder. Unless the teacher requires binder clips, of course – but she won’t, because she knows they’re completely impractical.
I don’t know about you, but as a kid, I did not get a new backpack every year. It was at least every 2 years, if it wasn’t longer. If you want your children to use their backpack for more than one year, refrain from purchases that have Dora, Bob the Builder or any other character. Chances aren’t good that they’ll like that character throughout even a single school year. Chances of your child liking the same character next year are nearly nil.
Travel-Sized Hand Sanitizers
I’ve seen these advertised as an essential for any middle-schooler’s backpack, so that your child can avoid germs like the plague. The problems are twofold. Firstly, chances are slim that your child will actually remember to use said hand sanitizer, or that she’ll be able to use it without looking ‘nerdy’. Secondly, some studies suggest that stripping the skin of all protective layers actually makes people more susceptible to germs and illness, and you wouldn’t want to risk it, would you?
New College Textbooks
New college textbooks cost a fortune and will probably become outdated within a year or two (if not sooner). Why spend hundreds of dollars on new textbooks when you can get used copies at a fraction of the price? As an added benefit, you may also be able to get the previous owner’s notes in the margins or highlights in the text which will make studying slightly less painful.
I’m not claiming that rubber bands are a useless invention, but just that purchasing them is a waste of money. Because these may be one of the least-used back to school supplies available, you can probably survive by hoarding the rubber bands that bind your newspapers, circulars and mail. Start a collection now so that by the time your child needs one (if ever), you’ll have multiple sizes available.
Legal pads may be great for lawyers but they’re not ideal for students, as the perforated pages are prone to detaching from the pad. Worse, there’s no way to find the page you’re looking for without mercilessly adding post-it notes to denote where each of your recordings are found.
Know of any other back to school money wasters that I’ve forgotten? Please let me know!