How much do teachers spend on supplies out of pocket?

Look beyond the dollars for who’s spending, and what they’re spending on.

2 min readJan 27


As part of our work at Alpaca, we asked 1,000 teachers how much they spend out of pocket for supplies.

The average from our surey: $521 per teacher per year. Based on in-person interviews in classrooms, I think the numbers are understated. But here’s how it shakes out:

We also looked at what the breakdown was among veteran teachers and newer teachers. It’s not surprising, but teachers who are just setting up their classrooms for the first time spend more:

Finally, I wondered what teachers are spending it on. Again, not what I pictured. I had in my head pencils, paper, and crayons. But those things are a little easier to get. Here’s where they’re spending it:

Teachers are paying for the stuff that make learning more enjoyable, students more motivated, and classrooms more organized.

Why? Because an enjoyable, motivating, well-organized classroom is a place for teachers to do their best work.

And what professional doesn’t want that?

Supporting teachers isn’t just about filling a wish list.

It’s about listening to the professionals who are teaching our kids, and supporting them with the tools they need.

And then remembering to do that again next month.

At @alpacapacks we’re building a community of people who think teaching is a profession worthy of investment and respect.

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Founder and CEO of Alpaca. Goals Nerd, Spreadsheet Enthusiast, and Runner.