Even though we still have much of summer to savour, back-to-school is not very far away. Everyone knows about the expenses associated with back-to-school shopping, from shoes to school supplies, but there are a number of expenses that appear right around the time that school doors fling their doors open to begin the year. It is worthwhile to plan a little extra cushion in your budget to usher in September.
After School Activities
You are probably fully prepared, budget-wise, to tackle back-to-school when it comes to clothing and school supplies, but what about when it comes to those hours after school?
Realize that whether your child is a ballerina, hockey star or future piano prodigy, many after school programs require payment either in September, or just prior. Some year-round activities offer installments (particularly when they are expensive), but some require a lump sum payment.
Add on to that the need to outfit and equip, in terms of uniforms, outfits or equipment, and September’s tally for after school is hefty.
Now that your child is back spending every day with his/her buddies at school, it seems that the birthday party circuit ramps up in full swing. Summer birthday parties seem to be smaller and less frequent, perhaps because of an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.
Birthday parties presents can bite a big chunk out of monthly spending, particularly if your child has friends from lots of different areas, or if they are in a class where the entire class tends to get invited collectively to parties.
Mitigate some of these costs by collecting appropriate gifts as you go and stockpiling to spread out the cost. Even better if you can find things on sale!
School Activity Fees
Many schools charge an activity fee or a student fee (some schools call it by different names), to be paid at the beginning of the school year. This fee often goes for extras at school like additional supplies and/or to help defray the cost of school outings and special events in-house.
While this fee is generally not super-expensive, when you add it together with the other September costs, it can contribute to an expensive month.
This may not apply to everyone, but childcare costs can shift in September. Perhaps you were lucky enough to sidestep childcare expenses in the summer months by vacationing or by having family take care of kids.
In the fall though, before and after school care can be a new addition to some budgets, so be mindful of that extra cost.
School Food Programs
Different schools run this in different manners, but most result in Mom & Dad having to write a whole bunch of cheques in September.
Some schools have a cafeteria serving lunch on premises. Some offer hot lunches to their kids a couple of times a week, which they bring in from elsewhere.
A number of schools offer milk programs. Some also offer breakfast programs too.
While many of these programs are offered in installments, almost always the initial payment is due in September.
It is not uncommon for the school year to kick off with some sort of fundraising drive. If you are like me (a horrible salesman), I end up having to buy many of the wares that my little ones are peddling.
That said, there is no reason that you even have to participate in fundraising. You can always politely decline and find other ways to support the school community.
More than One Child?
Unless you are the parent of an only child, remember that these costs will double or triple, depending, and be mindful when budgeting these costs out.