It’s the end of May. Temps have just broken 80 degrees here. Some schools are out for the summer and the rest are just about there. There are evenings sweating it out at the ballpark (for a variety of reasons). Vacation plans are being finalized. And now I’m going to tell you it’s time to think about back to school. Yes, NOW!
Like most school-aged children might say, you’re probably thinking, “But… but….. but……that’s like 3 whole months away!” Now go back and say that again in your best whiny tone and you’ll probably have it about right.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about enjoying the summer and everything it is and the fact that it ISN’T school. But as the adults of this world, we do need to be thinking ahead to late August when we will be begging for the start of school to get here so we can get back into a routine again.
Skip ahead with me for just a moment. Think about everything you will be doing to get ready for school. More importantly, think about the money you will be spending when school starts. Here’s my admittedly incomplete list:
- School lunch account
- Tuition (if you aren’t in a public school)
- Activity and sports fees
- The added insurance if your child will start driving
- School pictures
- School pictures haircut
I’m sure I’ve only primed the pump for you and you are now sweating as you add more of your own expenses to the list.
But fear not, that’s why we are talking back to school now. That could quickly become a lot of money in the last two weeks of August if you don’t plan ahead. But start saving now, and you have 3 months to break that dollar amount into smaller chunks and set it all aside. That way, when it comes time to spend all of this money, you will already have it and not have to worry about where else you won’t spend money or the interest on whatever credit card you are charging it to. It’s simply paid off and over with if you save up ahead of time.
Let’s do a little math. Imagine you need $600 to get through all of the list above. That might be a little high depending on your child or children, but let’s go with it. Could you come up with an extra $600 in the last two weeks of August?
Buuuutttt, if you start now, you have 3 months to come up with that amount. As many a pop star has stated – ‘break it down’. $600 in three months is $200 per month, or $50 per week. Now $50 is still a notable amount of cash, but let’s be honest. $50 is probably one good meal out for your family. That doesn’t sound nearly so daunting as the $60 amount.
So, as your kids are ready to break out of their last day of school at a dead run, be thinking about the coming first day of school. Planning ahead just a little bit now will make that back to school time much less stressful when it does arrive.
By the way, if you don’t have kids in school or don’t have that much in expenses, this same concept works with whatever else you are saving for. Vacation? New car? New house? New spouse? (I mean paying for the wedding, not buying a person. That’s just weird.) It may be a ways off, but start saving now so you only have to come up with smaller amounts of money at a given time. You will enjoy the process more and be ready when the time is right.
If you would like a little help figuring out a budget or even setting some financial goals, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources would be happy to help. You can give us a call at 605-330-2700 or schedule an appointment online.
Whatever inevitable event is headed your direction, just be prepared for it. But be careful about mentioning back to school to your kids right now or you may have an explosion on your hands.
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net