Financial Tips for Surviving the Upcoming School Year

Financial Tips for Surviving the Upcoming School Year

It’s expensive enough being a parent. It only gets worse when your kids become school-age. So save yourself a headache or two and plan ahead for the costs of school-year fees, supplies, and (heaven help me) high school dances.

Between schools passing costs of extracurricular activities to parents, and the rising expectations for events like prom and quinceaneras, you will want to create a realistic budget. And doing so before the school year will help you and your kids save up and make wise spending decisions.

Costs to Consider

Here, briefly, are the primary pain points that come with the school year.

  • Clothes:  Yes, you’ll want to stock up on new outfits for your growing kids, with consideration for winter gear.
  • Supplies:  Those binders, colored pencils, and graphic calculators aren’t going to buy themselves. Consider age-appropriate needs and what your school does and doesn’t provide.
  • In-School Activities: Is your kid a budding artist or the next Yo-Yo Ma? That’ll set you back quite a bit. A decent, student-grade trumpet, for instance, will cost about $300 new. Find out if you’ll be paying for uniform rentals, trips, and registration fees.
  • Extracurricular Activities: This is very similar to school activities but also includes church groups, sports teams, and any kind of private lessons or classes.
  • Special Events: Oy vey. I’d rather not think about this one, which mostly applies to older kids. Parents these days are spending ridiculous gobs of money on prom, for instance (and let’s not blame it all on the kids; it can be a vehicle for parents to show status).  

Create a Plan of Action

  • Determine a Budget: If you’re already budgeting, then good for you. If not, this is as good a time as any to learn how to make a family budget.
  • Let Them Contribute: If your kids are high school age, encourage them to raise funds beyond what you can or want to provide.  It may seem early to think about dresses for prom in 2013 or paying for their scout troop’s Spring break white water rafting trip.  But thinking ahead gives both of you time to save up.

With a realistic budget, and perhaps even a savings plan in place, you can better prepare not only for paying for stuff, but helping your kids enjoy the things they love. Plus, they’ll learn a whole lot about finances quickly if they need to be careful in their spending.


Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for Apron Addicts, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology, travel, food, and whatever else strikes her fancy at the moment. When she’s not writing, she takes care of her two small children, finds new ways to organize and decorate her home, and takes immense pride in her killer cheesecake brownies.-

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