For families, school means expenses

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 23, 1999

Back-to-school means back to the malls and shopping centers for parents.

Monday, August 23, 1999

Back-to-school means back to the malls and shopping centers for parents. Notebooks, pens and pencils are just a portion of what parents have to buy to get their children prepared for school. Shoes, clothing, athletic gear all make for a hefty bill, parents say.

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&uot;It can be kind of spendy,&uot; Tammy Soper of Albert Lea admitted. &uot;You just have to look for the sales.&uot;

Soper kept her eye on the sales flyers before bringing her children Andy, 8, and Kayla, 10, out to try on new shoes and clothes.

&uot;Shoes can cost anywhere from $20 to $50, but every fall it’s time to stock up on new shoes for the kids,&uot; Soper said. &uot;And shopping doesn’t go through again until spring when it’s time to buy summer clothes.&uot;

Of course, it doesn’t end with the clothes. Backpacks and lunch boxes usually only have a one-year lifespan and are replaced every fall, she added.

Each grade school class distributes a list to let parents know exactly what the child will need for the year, making Soper’s job a little easier.

But what isn’t easy is picking out clothes for the children. Whereas Soper used to be able to pick out clothes for the children, they generally want to make the choices.

&uot;Right now they’re at an age where they want to pick out their own clothes,&uot; Soper said. She added that shopping for Andy is easier because he sticks to brands like Nike. But Kayla is starting to develop her own sense of style, making it a little more difficult to find things she likes. And Soper realizes that as Kayla gets older, she may become more label conscious as many teens are today.

&uot;She’s starting to get into it, but not very much. She likes to go shopping now,&uot; said Soper. Andy remains unenthused about shopping for clothes.

Another added cost with older school children is athletic equipment.

Lynn and Pam Wasmoen of Emmons are busy outfitting a high school sophomore, Molly, and a college freshman, Eric, for the start of the 1999-2000 school year.

&uot;With our daughter, we have to buy shoes for volleyball and sometimes the shirt too,&uot; said Pam Wasmoen.

&uot;It will actually be cheaper with Eric because we won’t be buying football (equipment), but I guess we’ll spend that money on different things,&uot; Lynn Wasmoen added.

As for new clothes – &uot;They always want something new for the school year,&uot; said Pam Wasmoen.

While 16-year-old Molly is saving her allowance for future college expenses, their son Eric is helping to fund part of the cost for higher education.

Also, Eric was fortunate to receive many of the needed dorm room items as graduation gifts or prizes at the post-graduation party.

An answering machine, cordless telephone and small refrigerator are items that many college students want for happy dorm life, but the cost can add up pretty fast.

&uot;Eric was fortunate to get that stuff,&uot; his mother said. Much of the linens and dishes Eric will need for college were graduation gifts.

And since Eric’s textbooks are included in his tuition at the University Wisconsin, River Falls, the biggest expense the Wasmoens are considering – aside from tuition – is the possibility of investing in a computer.

&uot;Right now, we’re not sure,&uot; Pam Wasmoen said. &uot;He’ll use the computer labs on campus the first year, and we’ll see how that works.&uot;

The Wasmoens said their biggest challenge will be living almost two hours away from their son.

&uot;When we say goodbye, it’s going to be the hardest, not how much we’re spending,&uot; his father said.