Last week I boasted about my fantastic bargain back-to-school shopping skills, but yesterday I ran into a rather unpleasant surprise request – a graphing calculator. One single item busted my entire back-to-school budget. My 7th grader’s Algebra I teacher sent home a syllabus and a supply list. I’d already purchased many of the items on the list - $0.20 single-subject notebooks, $0.50 composition books, $0.10 pocket folders and more.

Once my eyes scanned the line that said ‘graphing calculator’ I stopped. This wasn’t a generic request, though, the teacher listed five different models that could be used. After a quick Google search I walked into my son’s room and interrupted his Algebra homework (how fitting, right?) and told him “I have to buy you a $90 calculator!”

He laughed. I’m not joking, he turned around, looked at me and laughed. Then promptly returned to his Algebra. While I was happy to see his devotion to his math homework, I was not happy with his immediate reaction to my calculator predicament.

So, what’s a dedicated mom to do? Head off to the local store to buy said calculator, what else? My Google research led me to Walmart, which had the calculator in stock and at the best price. Once I arrived in the calculator aisle I was once again left momentarily speechless; the calculator was locked onto the display rack. What? It’s a calculator! Why does it have to be locked? Then I remembered, this isn’t any old calculator, this is a $90 calculator. 

Thankfully, a helpful associate had just rounded the corner. Although she didn’t have the keys on her she told me she would be right back. While she was off looking for the keys, I decided to take a picture of the $90 calculator and send it to my son. Within minutes I was on the phone with him, where he said with a hint of excitement in his voice, “Wait, you were serious? It really is a $90 calculator.”

Yes Alex, it really is a $90 calculator.

School supply budget buster – a $90 calculator
A single back-to-school supply request obliterated a bargain shopping streak.