As a new or trainee teacher, you haven't got much money, have you? Yet some people spend up to pound;50 a month on things for school, which is crazy.
Teachers should not be subsidising the education system. If it's not in school or can't be claimed back easily then you need to think whether it's necessary.
But if you are going to buy things, make sure they'll have a long shelf life. It'd be great to think that all schools will have a good selection of books, but I've always found having my own pile of favourites very handy.
There's rarely any benefit in buying them new. You can pick up great children's books very cheaply from charity shops, fetes jumble sales - even libraries.
There will probably be teachers' books in school somewhere, but it's good to have your own copies of some. Look at the range in the library before you buy. If you're a primary teacher, it's useful to have a copy of mental maths tests with answers because these rarely date too much - just add a zero to the ones that write about buying crisps for 4p.
Maybe you want some of your own resources for convenience - to enable you to work when you want to, rather than having to spend hours in school. A computer is a must, but it doesn't have to be new, or all-singing and dancing. What brand of ink cartridges does your home printer use? Take the school's cartridges, or failing that buy in bulk from one of those shops that does cheap refills. Printers always run out at the most inconvenient time! Get some printable acetates to go through ink jet printers.
What about laminators? A sigh of orgasmic bliss goes through the land for there is a veritable fan club of owners who swear by the machines you can buy for under pound;20 from Tesco or Woolworths.
Can you ever have enough pens? Make the most of all the freebies in shops.
It's worth having your own selection of board and acetate pens, with your name on of course.
Organise a system for keeping worksheets and resources so that they can be found the next time they're needed. Filing cabinets come cheap at secondhand office stores and I swear by my portable expander file box for storing overhead transparencies.
(Tip: if one pupil does their classwork on cheap transparency paper (in black pen so that it can be photocopied for their folder or exercise book) it can be used as an assessment and teaching resource in the plenary and in future lessons.) Some people think that every piece of paper needs to be put into a plastic wallet, but think twice. I hate having to read things in them. More than one piece of paper in the wallet makes it a palaver to get the documents out and, if the light is shining on the wallet, you can't read it easily.
It makes weighty documents even heavier to say nothing of the cost of buying the actual wallets. Yes, it may make them look nice, but really a hole punch is quite sufficient.
Where are you going to keep other resources? You need a system for all the recycled stuff: the loo rolls, Toblerone boxes, and yoghurt pots. The cupboard under my stairs should be a health warning to all primary teachers. Ask yourself what you're going to do with what you garner and if there isn't another way. For instance, if you want 30 Pringle tubes for some whizzy DT activity you can probably get them in no time at all by sending a letter home with the kids.
What about articles from The TES? Do you cut them out and file them or do you have a mountain of complete papers - with no idea where? Why not make more use of The TES online archive for useful bits?
At least your computer looks tidy - from the outside, but one last tip: back up all your files!