I Thought Public School Was Free?

Another historical post from the days when my daughters went to public schools. Public School was Free? Yes, but not really.

I was running low on ideas and asked my wife for a topic for today’s blog and she came up with the cost of our “free” education system. She had been out shopping for back to school supplies (a HUGE industry in itself) and was telling me about all the “bargains” she was going to have to find to pay for all of the unwritten educational expenses.

Not Optional

These are expenses you can’t escape from and you MUST pay:

  • $45.00 yearbook & agenda/year fee which is not optional (per child). My kids in High School can’t even get their schedule before they pay this fee.
  • $10.00 for the agenda at my elementary daughter’s school
  • Class fees for individual classes:
    • Art fee $25.00
    • Music Fee $25.00 not to do with the instrument rental
    • Musical instrument rental or purchase which can be anywhere from $100 to $800
    • Physics Fee $10
    • Tech Fee $30
    • Music Fee $35.00

Not that much I guess around $100 – 200.00 per child all due in September.

Optional Expenses

These are the added expenses that you can try to not pay or find ways around them, but some are more optional than others. An example would be I can’t really not buy bus passes for my daughters who go to a school a 20 minute drive away, but I will include them here for the sake of fairness in the model.

  • Yearbook fee of $15.00 for elementary/middle school
  • $200.00 since one of my daughters plays on the school basketball team
  • Food
    • Pizza $45/child/3 months
    • Juice $38/child/3 months
    • Pita Bread $40/child/3 months
  • Class photos $40
  • Team fees for athletics $20.00
  • Team fees for football $32.00
  • Team fees Curling $50.00
  • Tournament fees for basketball $115.00
  • Skiing $60.00 for club
  • End of year camp $187.50
  • Gym Fees $24.00 for self defense
  • Team fee softball $45
  • Monthly Bus Passes $58.00 per month Per Child
  • Band shirt $25.00

The bus passes are not cheap, a lot of the school athletics , and you can see these expenses can be anywhere from $100-$800.00 for a child over the year.

Now this does not really include things like:

  • Pencils, pencil cases, crayons and such
  • Paper, binders and the like
  • Computer, and computer paper
  • Clothing for the start of the year

Anybody else know why I don’t have any money in September? Just take a guess.


Wake Me Up When September Ends…

Not just a very good song by Green Day, but also an anthem in my personal financial life. September seems to create a “perfect storm” of debt load that appears every year and I think I can give you the list of the things that are the causes:

Wake Me Up When September Ends
American Idiot, one of my Favourite Green Day Albums
  1. Back to school. This in itself has many parts to it:
    1. Clothing, the kids inevitably need new clothes, and that is a big ticket item.
    2. Changes in eating habits, having to purchase lunch foods
    3. FEES, which in turn breaks down to:
      • Lunch fees, the school typically runs a pizza day once a week but you have to pay for 4 months at a time, so you fork that money out right away.
      • School fees, which are not insignificant, even though my kids go to a public school? That always amazes me.
    4. Bus Passes, I have to start buying them every month (adding up to $170 a month)
  2. Sports begin again, and they are typically very “front end loaded” because you have to pay:
    1. Registration fees (although those are getting a tax break, which is great)
    2. Uniform fees and or equipment replacement:
      • New running shoes for two daughters (at about $140 per pair)
      • New ankle and knee braces (might be covered by my medical, might not)
      • Mouth guards (no these are not cheap either).
    3. Traveling with the team(s)
      • Hotel rooms and meals when at away tournaments
      • Meals for long tournaments in town and you just don’t feel like cooking
  3. New city programs for preschoolers start, and these are not cheap, and I don’t get to write them off on my taxes, because my wife does not work.
  4. Planning and shopping for Christmas starts (I am not kidding, if you don’t start this in September you are really going to dig yourself a hole in December).

The fact that I can list all these expenses is a good thing, so I can try to make some kind of plan to deal with all of these added expenses, or I can include them in my big plan, and just deal with them when they come at me.

Is your September going to have new expenses? If so, better make a plan on how this is not going to tip over the apple cart and cause you to “financially panic”.


Sending Sick Kids to School

In these days of pandemics, this rant from 2005 does seem to still ring true. If you or your kids are sick, please stay home, I don’t need the latest disease, thanks.

At times we do things to keep money flowing, or to not lose our vacation that maybe we need to think about before we do them.

Case in point, one of my kids brought home a new “cold strain” and I finally succumbed to this and was off my feet for a couple of days. My kids picked it up from another kid, who I am sure spread the disease to other kids, etc., .

So what is this RANT really about? If you send your kids to school SICK so that you don’t have to take a day vacation OR you come into work so you don’t have to take a SICK day (and I realize companies are now implementing the evil policy of sick/vacation days being linked), you WILL (there is no maybe) infect 4 other people (at least) (your kids will most likely infect 4 kids).

By this one act you are spreading illness (and with this bird flu thing, it could be really serious), and you are hurting other folks abilities to do their job. Sounds selfish to me, you will hurt other folks ability to earn a pay cheque!

If you don’t think that is very important financially, think of this. I got this cold, if I had visited my Dad who is in hospital and not well, I could have KILLed him with this.

Think about it folks, I am not saying, go live in a plastic bubble, or carry around disinfecting soap, but if you are sick, stay home! The financial and social aspects of this are important to all of us.

Getting other folks sick is not a debt reduction scheme.


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