|Managing the high cost of high school
Need cardboard? Grab a few boxes
at the grocery store or other local merchant. Look around your home for items
that can substitute for high-dollar crafty stuff: Old clothing and bedding can
offer material, buttons, lace and trim. Dad's workshop yields paint, nails and
leftover wood. Can students work in teams? If so, cut the cost by dividing it
with other parents. If you must purchase supplies, stay away from expensive craft
shops. Instead, check discount stores for your needs.
forget to ask neighbors and friends for help. They might have just what you need
in their garages -- or be willing to rev up their power saws to cut that plywood
Bowman of Laurel, Md., says she had to buy both of her sons' graphing calculators.
At $200 a pop, they're not cheap. Again, try eBay and pawn shops for used ones.
If you end up purchasing a new one, watch for sales. Often there are attractive
rebates for small electronic items at the beginning of the year. (Tip: Check out
www.shoplocal.com to get
a jump on sales in your area.)
For paper, pens, book covers, notebooks and other
supplies, buy in quantity after school has already started. Many suppliers drastically
slash their prices. Stockpile the extras for use all year long.
mother of seven, believes kids become smart with money by participating in household
finances. "Teens need to learn they don't have a free ride," she says.
The Kays put their children on a budget for school supplies, clothes and school
lunches. They monitor where the kids are with their money once every two weeks.
key to this budget is that they get to keep what they don't spend," she says.
If they go over budget, they have to work it off. The result? "They don't
break pencils in half when they're bored. They act more responsibly."
pictures, class rings, graduation
If school pictures cost as much as
furnishing the kid's bedroom, don't despair. The experts say you can end run those
hefty prices. Here's how: The school photographer will take the yearbook picture,
then offer you a pricey package of prints. Don't buy them. Instead, slash the
cost by having your own photos taken at Sears, JCPenney or a local studio. You'll
pay less and still have great pictures.
Simply because the
school sells class rings doesn't mean you have to buy one from them. Retailers
such as Wal-Mart offer inexpensive versions of the same rings for a fraction of
Graduation expenses can be out of this world. If
you have problems coming up with the money for a cap and gown, check to see if
you can borrow one from a senior who has already walked down the aisle. If your
school rents them and the price is too much for your budget, ask a counselor if
there's help available.
As for some of the extra expenses
that crop up -- Kay and Banks both say they can be reduced by group effort. Parent
support organizations can seek corporate sponsors or help from charities, sell
raffle tickets, and have car washes or yard sales.
of elementary and junior high school students can jump-start the game by putting
pennies aside now. By the time your teen hits high school, you should have enough
socked away to make paying his way an easy A.