Budgeting for school expenses (video)
Written by Preet Banerjee

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016


When it comes to budgeting, getting a handle on the expenses that happen like clockwork is relatively easy. Car payments, mortgage payments and gym memberships don’t tend to change too much, and if they’re variable month to month, we still have pretty good guesses as to what they’ll be.

But the irregular expenses are where many budgets can fall apart. These include holiday, birthday, and anniversary spending, attending weddings, vacations, and anything else that quite frankly, doesn’t happen with as much predictability as our monthly expenses.

And one of the biggest sources of non-monthly expenses are all the things you have pay for when your children are in school, which range from supplies, to fieldtrips, to fundraisers, and more.

Creating a budget for school expenses is no different than creating a budget for anything else. You need to figure out what all the expenses are, and then figure out how you’re going to fund them.

On the expense side, you’ll have items such as:

  • School supplies
  • School photos
  • Uniform costs, if applicable
  • Fieldtrips
  • Fundraisers
  • Sports equipment
  • Prom and formal wear

It’s a good idea to check with the teacher or the school to see if they have a calendar of expenses to help you plan for everything.

Once you’ve added up all the out-of-pocket costs, now you need to figure out how you want to fund them. It might make sense to take the total amount and divide by 12. Even though the school year might be 10 months, it’s easier to keep a monthly contribution going indefinitely instead of starting and stopping it.

So if you’ve calculated the expenses to be $500 for the school year for your child, dividing that by 12 gives you $41.67. Rounding that up, you might set up a dedicated savings account with automatic transfers of $42 per month.

Sometimes it feels like there is expense after expense that you keep getting hit with during the school year… because you do! You can keep on top of those expenses by planning for them ahead of time.


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