Back-to-School Shopping Strategy in Italy

Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

School usually doesn't start until September in Italy, which means we'll spend another month in education darkness. We don't know how — or if — the kids will go back to class. I'm using this uncertainty as an excuse not to engage in any compulsive back-to-school shopping.

The good news: We have enough supplies to open a private school. The advantage of not going to school was that my kid consumed fewer supplies than in past years. Online assignments meant plenty of notebooks, binders, and notebook fillers left to supply us until December.

Plus, he had no opportunity to lose pens, pencils, sharpeners, scissors, and so on. All those objects that mysteriously disappear in a teenager's bag once he takes them to school are safe on his desk, and functional. And speaking of the bag, it's as good as new, because no one has touched it for the last four months. Another 40 euros ($45) saved. That's a first!

Holding Off on Purchases — For Now

Art and technology teachers had to come up with alternative projects suitable for online classes. Therefore, we have materials for art and technology left, such as kneaded erasers, drawing paper, and mechanical pencils, among other tools. They won't last for an entire school year, but I'm not buying anything until we know for sure we'll have a regular school year in the first place.

Textbooks are the only item on my shopping list. They're mandatory, and my son will use them whether schools open or not.

I'm sure we'll also receive a list of items from the teachers, but everything can wait until we know for sure that we’ll use the stuff. If my son joins classes from his bedroom and does most of the work online, many of these supplies will be useless. If I don't need them right away, I can wait for the best deal.

At the end of August, I'll do some online searches for gym equipment and other supply essentials that the teachers will ask for.

Teachable Moment

And the wardrobe? I'll drive to the closest outlet and buy some casual clothes from last year's collection for 40 percent of the price. At least there's an education in all this: I call it teaching a teenager to cope with a recession.

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