What are your plans for the fall? Given September is not that far away, do you have a plan?
For many folks September really is just another month, and I hope some time in my life it returns to that state, however if you have children, you know full well that the month of September can actually be one of the biggest outlay months of the year (yes even bigger than December (or January for that matter)).
I used to think that September expenses were out of control when my kids were in elementary school and even high school, but as you all know, once they got to University it was a completely different creature (or problem).
In High School you pay for:
- Back to school clothes
- Paper and various school supplies
- Maybe a new computer if your kid reaches that age
- Sport charges or school programs that need funding
- Maybe bus passes or transport costs
The first few times you go through this, it really feels like a lot of money, but then you hit the University Years where your costs are the above plus:
- Tuition, if you are Canadian you are looking at $4,000 or so in these costs (every 4 months), if you live in the states, I have no idea how you pay that. Better hope your RESP has enough in it.
- Books, could be anywhere from $250+ (in Engineering and other areas could be over $750)
- Living expenses, if they move away from home try for $2500 to $5000 every four months again
Or, maybe not, maybe your kid is paying for it themselves, so maybe September is a wonderful time, because you get to keep your money (anybody out there like that)? Maybe your kid is in a co-op program? Maybe your kid is getting a bunch of grants?
What is your September going to look like? A tsunami of spending, or just another month? Might be time to make plans for the fall .
Eduction of children does not have to be a serious burden on parents. It did not happen in our family. Here is our experience:
– back-to-school clothing is a marketing myth invented by retailers. we had an annual budget for clothes for both boys. They knew about it. Through high school they participated in making decisions about buying clothes. Past high school we only fund it, they buy what they want, when they need it. BTW, nobody needs 6 pairs of jeans. Kids must get real.
– you want a computer? then go and earn it! Both kids did it. Elder one somehow “survived” engineering at Waterloo with the same computer.
– RESP is a serious saving tool. We made contributions for several years for each child, but both understood that was money to be returned. Combined with summer work (and not only summer) work it will get a kid a long way.
– good effort at high school leads to good grades, which leads to good grants. One does not have to genius to have high grades, but one has to learn to study way before high school. Try not to listen to “every child is a star” mantra invented by Canadian teacher to simplify their own work. Costs of college start at primary school and can be avoided there as well.
– most university books can be found in free pdf’s and read on ereader.
– co-op is a valid way to go through university. Beware though that life with no vacations (co-op schedule risk) is a recipe for trouble. Vacations are a must.
Do not be afraid to overload your precious child with too much work. As my Dad used to say: “The more you do – the more free time you have”. Being busy creates a sense of priorities – one of the most important life skills.
Wow, lots of great points here, I put out the points solely as examples. My kids have earned a great deal of money to help out, but your points are very good.
Funny you say that about back to school. It’s true most families struggle with the costs to send a student to elementary or high school but it’s nothing compared to University or College. Oddly enough like myself I paid my way through school not relying on my parents at all. I’m proud of my accomplishments and know that anyone could do it if they had to.
I think parents who motivate their children to get a part time job,will help them understand the value of the dollar. If your child can apply for a grant and receives it, even better. Finance is a lesson we need to learn before jumping in head first to the world even if it is higher education. This is where a huge bulk of student debt is incurred and not just the education part.
It’s the partying, clothes,make-up,cars,cell phones, gadgets, booze,trips keeping up with the rest of the students that gets them into money trouble. I never had a credit card in school and I thank my lucky stars every day! Nothing in life is free or just handed to us. We have to work for anything we desire.
Very true, ownership of your education makes it much more tangible for the student.