It’s that time of year! It’s summer and you start seeing all these marvelous things you need for your classroom! You start feeling FOMO thinking you need to get to that store before they are all gone!
Before you jump in the car, read this.
Wait, I know! You’ve gotta go now! Please, just take a deep breath.
You may be very upset at what you are going to read in this post.
Hold on! Just read first.
I’ve been teaching since 2000 and I have a weakness, the dollar spot and dollar stores.
When I read “dollar”, I read it as “better than free”!
A few years ago, I purchased at least 30 colorful, plastic paper trays from the dollar spot, and they were more than $1.00 each. I stalked all the stores within a 25 mile radius to find all 30 of the paper trays (add the cost of gas to that tab). At the end of this past school year, I made the time to go through my cupboards and drawers. Do you know what I found? Twenty extra paper bins that were not used. What a waste, and I felt a little sad.
Are these items useful? Yes.
Did I use them? No.
We already put so much time and effort into our profession, so why do we do this to ourselves? Not only are we spending our money on things we think we will use (“I’ll buy now and think on it later.”), but we are using our precious classroom space and even personal living storage spaces to store these items.
I can hear you now. “But, how do I pass these up? They are only available for a short while!”
Consider this. If it’s not going to be used, does it matter if was only available for a short time? Can you live with yourself later on when you are creating lesson plans, and you do not have that dollar item that would fit in perfectly with this lesson?
Think about this before you tear down the road to the store…
- Avoid it altogether. "What?!?!" No, really. Try to avoid those messages that make you have FOMO. For some of you, it’s social media. I know I can’t avoid Instagram and Facebook, but when I see these posts I just try to keep spanning right past them. Can it be difficult? Yes. Is it fun? No, but it is one strategy I try to use.
- Don’t play their game. There is a reason that the dollar spots are right at the entrance of the store. It’s their hope that you will get lost there. Raise your hand if you get excited about that spot? I know you do. I do too. It’s a mind game starting with the sign that has the word “dollar” in it.
- It is not your friend. Marketing is on the store’s mind. Look at the items in the dollar spot/store. How many of them are really only $1.00? How many of those actual $1.00 items do you really want to buy? Usually, they are the $3.00 items that are the more tempting purchases. They made the rules to this game and they are usually the winners.
- Go only with a focused mindset. You may need to go to that particular store, but try to go in like an athlete to an event, have the mindset of what you need to win! It may be that you enter with a list of items you truly need before you walk into the store. Focus on that list. Make it the priority. Challenge yourself to only walk out of the store with those items on that list. If that’s too much, promise yourself you will only spend a predetermined amount on miscellaneous things not on your list.
- Do you have the storage space? Ask yourself this question. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t have the space and you really want to purchase it, are you willing to part with other things to make the room?
- Wait and think. Think back to the time you wanted something so badly and then didn’t purchase it. For me, most of the time, the urge subsides and then I’m thinking that I’m so glad I didn’t spend my money on whatever-the-heck-it-was because I’d rather now spend it on something else.
- Will the students feel the same about your purchase as you feel? How much of a positive impact will this buy have on your classroom? Buying something that just makes you happy is great, just make sure you’re buying it for your right reasons.
I will still be purchasing things at the dollar deal spots and stores, I just need to remember that awesome teaching doesn’t hang upon what’s purchased at a store. Sometimes, the lasting impressions are something I’ve slapped together thinking, “It’ll do. Oh well!”, but the students surprise me and thank me for it and for being the best teacher ever. The power of perception doesn't need to cost a lot.