If you’re reading this by the pool while the little ones are splashing and screaming in the water, there’s a good chance school is out for the summer. It’s a time for swimming, lazy days in the backyard, cookouts, fireworks…and budget preparation for the new school year. I understand why you’re shaking a fist at the tablet screen; however, these next few months are a perfect time to put money away for the new school year. And with district budgets continuing to tighten, more emphasis is put on the parents to pay. To assist you in this matter so you can get back to the pool, here are a few items to consider in your back to school budget.
Your children will grow through the summer, and whether they shoot up one or several inches, new school clothes will be needed for both the end of summer and beginning of fall. Budgeting for these garments helps in two ways. First, money is available when the fall clothes come out around July 5th. Second, the cache of funds permits you to load up on the summer clothes that go on sale July 6th. Not only does this clothe your children for the new school year, but it helps avoid going back to the store next spring.
Each year the school supply list gets a little longer while the price of the items your children need keeps inching up. If you have children in middle or high school, the costs of these supplies can increase when items like flash drives and scientific calculators are included. Even though stores like Wal-Mart sell these items at heavy discounts in the time leading up to the new school year, you may still receive sticker shock when you see the grand total. Creating a budget category for these items right now can ease the pain at the cash register as the new year draws closer.
Due to smaller budgets, extracurricular school activities are no longer free. Whether it’s athletics or the debate team, fees to participate or attend an event are common. Factor in other items like field trips and class pictures, the amount you pay out on an annual basis can surpass what you doled out for clothing and supplies combined. If you have a good idea what the costs for these items will be from the previous year’s payouts, it’s best to create a separate budget category for them, thus allowing you to increase or decrease the amount if needed without too much adjustment to your normal allocations.
Though your children bring their lunches to school most of the time, there is the off-chance they may want to buy lunch on one particular day. Of course, this will be the day when you don’t have any available cash on hand. To correct this, make sure you add this category as part of your budget to cover meals for at least the first half of the year. If your school district works with a company like SchoolPaymentSolutions.com, you can take the accumulated funds and add them to your children’s lunch accounts. This allows your children to pull the money out when they want to rather than you having to look around for the needed cash.