Teach your children household economics by involving them in the process of budgeting for the school year. You can teach your children basic business skills and home management skills while exposing them to basic scholastic subjects such as writing, mathematics, and public speaking. Yard sales, lemonade stands, and other creative ideas will lead to a healthy school budget, and a great advantage of it is that your child will get to exercise control over his or her own school year expenses.
The First Step: Financial Assessment
Gather your young-lings to the first corporate meeting to discuss just what is needed during the school year. School lunches, school pictures, school supplies, clothes, athletic gear, membership fees, yearbooks, and dance fees are all expenses that can be added to the school expense list. If you have older children in private school, use your discretion as to whether you want to include the annual tuition in the budget. Once you and your children have a list of all the expenses you can all expect to happen during the school year, examine the approximate cost of those items. You can have your kids look up the cost of certain items to get an accurate estimate. Include a bit of a buffer for miscellaneous expenses, and the final figure is your annual budget.
The Next Step: Getting More Money
Now that the kids have an idea of how much will be needed to fund the school year, let them know how much money you will grant them for the school year. If your children included expenses for athletic expenses that are not part of your normal school budget, let them know that the funds might be a bit low for some of their expected goals. Ask them to come up with a plan to raise funds for their scholastic goals. You can let your kids brainstorm for ideas, then you can add some ideas into the bunch and let them choose which options they wish to use. Some ideas for back-to-school fundraisers can be:
Back to school yard sale
Lemonade or tea stand
Saving a percentage of the allowance for the budget
Refurbishing or recycling old school supplies and having a “green” back to school sale
Doing a community clean-up and collecting aluminum cans to recycle for some extra cash
You might be surprised to find your kids have a certain techno-savvy that can lend itself to more unique cash streams. With your guidance and supervision, your kids might help you to list items on Craigslist or EBay for a nice extra stream of income.
The Intermittent Step: Managing the Money
You don’t have to school shop all at once. Your children can look at the budget and decide if the best option for school clothes shopping is to do a big shop at the beginning of the year, or to do a quarterly shopping trip. In managing the money, the kids might want to plan for a budget-buffer during the winter or spring months so that they have a little more money. Definitely encourage your children to think about the rest of the school year and to begin working on plans for future budgeting challenges.
With each expense, your children can be given the opportunity to make choices based on the budget that they might not even want to consider before this experience. For example, if your Senior Highschooler is given the chance to go to a major theme park for the high school trip, and he or she wants to go to an out-of-state trip for a school-related project, he or she might be more apt to think carefully about how important one trip is over the other, and he or she might learn to budget other expenses throughout the school year in an effort to be able to do both trips.
Summer Vacation: Annual Review and End of Year Budget Buffer
At the end of the school year, your children can review the expenses of the previous year and determine if there were any unexpected expenses, or forgotten expenses. Summer vacation is also a splendid time for your kids to raise a lot of money. Some employment agencies and nonprofit agencies offer summer employment programs that enrich your child’s education experience while giving them some extra cash. A portion of that cash can be used for the school budget, which includes fun activities and the potential for trendy clothing. Your kids can also have more yard sales, bake sales, lemonade sales and whatever else your local community code enforcement authorities will allow.
The Benefits of Back To School Budgeting for Children Are Immense
Your children will help you find surprising ways to get extra income for something that in invaluable: their education. Aside from helping you to maximize the expenses of their education an their educational enrichment programs, you’ll be giving your child the advantage of being involved in an educational process that will benefit them through school and much beyond school.
David Von Drehle of Time Magazine wrote an article in August 2010 called, “The Case Against Summer Vacation,” where he highlighted data that showed a possible correlation between the length of the school year and academic performance. In the United States, the school year is shorter then many school years of nations where the academic test scores are much higher then those in the United States. Furthermore, Drehle argues that low-income children may be at an unfair disadvantage due to many variables affecting low-income parents from being able to enrich their children’s’ educations throughout the summer.
If you involve your children in the budgeting process for their own school year, and allow them to make management decisions all year long, you will be giving your children an incredible educational opportunity that simply is not available in most school systems.