Going to public school is free, but it's not cheap.

Back to school shopping is a yearly event for Carolyn Valmassoi and her kids. 

She planned on spending no more than $100 for both her kids during their last shopping stop. 

Clothing, jewellery and shoes were also on an earlier list.  Valmassoi said those expenditures totalled $500 per child.

The Retail Council of Canada said the average Canadian household will spend about $300 sending kids back to school in 2012.

Even though many schools send home suggested supplies to buy, principal Laura Bates said it's not mandatory.

"We have markers and coloured pencils and all those things that we provide to the students at school, so they can recycle the things that they used last year," said Bates.

The Valmassoi family finished up their shopping trip.  The final cost rang in at over $207, double the budget.

But Valmassoi can be happy this was the last shopping trip, at least until next year.

A survey by Visa suggests the average parent in Ontario is spending $421 on back to school items.

With three children, Sai Yandamuri and his wife Laxmi said they're overwhelmed.

"Every year it's the same story and as the season goes and we have to buy different clothes for winter and fall, school supplies, clothes, everything," said Laxmi.

Classes begin on Tuesday.