School's been back on for several weeks now, and you might think you're in the clear when it comes to spending on school, but the costs of back to school extend way beyond September. How can you budget for back to school when September is long gone?
Four Tips To Extend Your Budget For Back To School All Year Long
Reuse as much as possible
Reusable lunch gear can save families a lot of money over the year but only if the gear keeps returning home and doesn't get forever abandoned at the school's lost and found. Label everything your child takes to school from their water bottles, to their agenda, books, and their shoes. The likelihood of getting an item returned is much greater if it has a way of being identified. Reusing items doesn't stop at lunch gear, children don't need new clothes, shoes, and a backpack unless they've outgrown them or they are beyond repair.
Budget tip: Stock up on reusable supplies during special sales during the school year. Keep a running list of anything you need, and use holiday sales to supplement your collection of eco friendly gear.
One of the hidden expenses of the school year are the cost of clothing and equipment. It can be difficult to anticipate how much to budget ahead of time as every child grows at a different rate. While it may be possible for siblings to share or hand-down clothing, sometimes they can end up wearing the same size.
Budget tip: Every season, gather up all the clothes and sports equipment which are in good condition. Arrange to drop-off the clothing to your local children's second-hand shop where you can either earn money or a credit towards clothing. Swap out the sports equipment for credit at a second-hand sports store, sell the equipment in a local community group, or even trade with other parents.
Save on extra-curricular activities
Rather than sign up for multiple extra-curricular activities, choose one per child. There are plenty of reasons to have your child focus on one extra-curricular per season and they don't all have to do with finances. Many families are aiming to simplify the after-school hours in pursuit of less stressful evenings and more family time.
Budget tip: Does your community provide recreation activities for kids and families? If they do, find out how to register. In Toronto the cost of city-funded swimming lessons is less than $100 for a season of lessons, while going private can cost hundreds of dollars.
Navigating the need for support
The cost of school can significantly change for the parents of children with special needs and learning challenges. The first step to take if you find your child needs extra support beyond what the school offers is to get on waitlists. It can take 6 months to 1-year (and more) to get seen by specialists and get access to free services like therapy.
Budget tip: While on the waitlist for support, if you have insurance, find out which private professional services are covered (e.g., Occupational Therapy) and try to utilize them before paying out of pocket. If you don't have insurance, ask the private service provider if they have any group options as these can be less costly than 1-on-1 sessions.
Our friends at Loan & Go explained to us Back to School by the numbers, including some of their own tips for how to budget for back to school.
This post is sponsored by Loan & Go. All opinions are our own.
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