Even after the first back-to-school rush, many families continue to struggle with the costs associated with this time of year. Here are few budget-busting expenses that parents may forget to budget for:
Fees and equipment for athletics
You may be thrilled when your middle schooler decides to try basketball but caught off guard by the costs. Even if the school provides uniforms, you’ll probably be responsible for providing gymnasium floor-friendly shoes.
While many schools handle athletic department fees with fundraisers, others impose a participation fee. You may also need to take your child to see the family doctor for a sports physical. These costs are easier to handle if you can plan for them, so ask about athletic fees, medical checkups, and equipment requirements as soon as possible.
Some schools may offer reduced fees for families that also qualify for free or reduced lunch prices.
School pictures and yearbooks
Many families forget to include the cost of school pictures in their back-to-school budgets. This event often happens a few weeks after the beginning of school, which means you may face the costs of shopping for a new outfit in addition to writing a sizable check for the photos.
Remember, school pictures are important, but there’s no requirement to buy all of them every time. In many cases, you can purchase the photos in digital format for a nice discount and share them with relatives via email and social media.
In some schools, athletic activities have their own picture sessions. There’s no requirement to buy every photo taken of your child. Many parents decide to choose a few of their favorites while preserving the family budget.
If your child wants a school yearbook, talk with them about the possibility of using allowance money or cash earned over the summer.
Even if the school doesn’t require older students to have a laptop computer, many students find that having access to the Internet is necessary for their academic success. According to the National Retail Foundation, parents spend $204 on average on back-to-school electronics. A tablet or laptop is the most common purchase. Students may be required to provide their own headphones, as well.
Prepping for important tests like the ACT/SAT and AP exams can add up as well. It’s possible to spend several hundred dollars on test prep materials and exam fees. Taking multiple AP courses in high school or repeating the SAT test will increase those costs.
A good way to cover these costs is to save money in advance. Ask school personnel to estimate these expenses and build them into your family budget.
No matter what grade your child enters this school year, unexpected expenses will appear. If you can, set aside extra money to cover these costs. Remember, keep the lines of communication open with your children as back-to-school costs add up. You may find that they have the ability to prioritize and help take some of the pressure off the family budget.
Field Trips and Club Outings
Extracurricular outings are fairly common and cover a wide range of events. Visiting a museum, the pep band going to away games, or a language club visiting a restaurant to try the culture’s cuisine are all common examples of little things which can add up or you have not budgeted for previously.
Keep in mind life is full of unexpected events which can bring about expenses you haven’t planned for. If you find yourself in need of some extra cash, a personal installment loan may be the answer. A personal installment loan can get you cash, while allowing you to make equal, monthly payments over a set term, to help spread the cost out over time.
Learning to manage a budget becomes a fairly simple task with a bit of practice. Take a look at The Basics of Budgeting to get started.