Reality Check: High cost of back to school shopping

Berea, KY (WKYT)- We are smack dab in the middle of summer, yet school is right around the corner and for many parents that means finding a way to pay for all those school supplies. WKYT's Amber Philpott went in search of why it costs so much and found one teacher who says she does her homework for parents to try and save them some money.

Summer break is winding down for Brandy Beardsley, not only is she a fifth grade teacher at Silver Creek Elementary in Berea she is also one of those moms who knows the high cost of back to school shopping.

"I just bought backpacks recently and backpacks alone were almost $17 a piece and I buy for two right now," said Brandy Beardsley.

Its no secret that the lists of required items for students returning to the classroom have grown and with it so too has the cost.

"So I have two going to school this year, right there is $40 and then add in another $40 or so and that's over a $100 just in supplies and that doesn't count clothes, shoes or lunch."

The blame for all of these long lists, dwindling school budgets.

"Administration wants us to have what we need for our students but the money is just not there."

Many times Beardsley says she spends right out of her own pocket, one year she spent $500 of her own money.

Beardsley says she does try to be mindful of other parents pocketbooks as well.

"At the end of the year we sit down as a fifth grade team and very specifically we say what do we not use or what do we have left over? We don't want to ask for anything we do need."

In Fayette County we gathered lists from each grade and took them to the store and did a price check.

We found that most lists had roughly twenty items and cost on average about $40. The one grade that seemed to require the most was fourth grade coming in at nearly $50 for the general list.

If parents were to add in the wish list items, things not required, but items for the entire class they could easily spend nearly $100.

So how do parents begin to save?

Deborah Morris is the Fru Gal and she says now is the time to buy!

Morris says if parents do a little homework before they shop it can go a long way.

"I went on to Facebook today and got a coupon for Bics, $1.50 off of two with all the sales today this will get you pens for free," said Deborah Morris.

She also suggests:
stocking up on items now, so you won't have to spend later in the school year
shopping where you earn rewards points on future purchases
ask if stores match competitor's prices

"The sales are unbelievable right now, you go in and get pencils for a penny," said Morris.

To a teacher and parent like Brandy Beardsley that's worth doing some homework, if it means saving at home and in the classroom.

Beardsley wants parents to know that if a list says three boxes of crayons per child, she will hold two back for each student so when they run out she can space it out for the year.

I know many of you have your own tips to save, and many of you have shared them with us on our Facebook page. Below are just a few of those tips. If you would like to let us know how you save just leave a comment below.

Turn in old ink cartridges at Office Depot, you can get $2 and use that toward supplies.
Use Facebook to find coupons
Buy a good quality backpack and try using it for several years in a row

For more information on back to school rallies being held in Fayette County please click on the link below.

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