Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Frugal Files: High School, not High Priced

Hey frugal folks!!

It’s that time again!! Today in The Frugal Files, we’re going to give parents some tips on how to keep the fall frugal even though the kiddies, big and small, are starting to get busy-bee lives. Where does that leave you as a parent? Running right along with them and you’re probably in the driver’s seat…literally.

The other day my cousin updated her Facebook status with the mixed emotions of pride and wide-eyed awareness that she is now the parent to a high school freshman. I chuckled as she came to this realization as I remember that moment of truth too. It’s one thing to have children at home that are in activities, have different styles and tastes for certain foods. It’s a completely different thing when one or more of those children reach the throne of High School kingdom. That is a completely different ball game, and sometimes that’s literal too.

We’re no longer talking pee-wee leagues, we’re now opening the conversation for reputations, dances, dates, high profile games, competitive extra-curriculars and debates, both at school and at home. This is just the beginning. Of all the things that can happen in high school, we’re going to focus more on the financial aspect of it.

I used to think, once children got out of diapers, it would be less expensive for them, especially if you were no strangers to hand-me-downs. I was naïve because though it may feel like less because you get in a groove, a student starting high school, is like starting the baby process all over again. Clothes and tastes get more expensive and the activities they take part in get more aggressive. So, how can you survive the inflation of a high schooler and in some cases, even a jr. high schooler? Let’s just take a look and see. I’ll share with you with I’ve learned, done and watched others do.

Join the PTA. What is that? It’s the Parent/Teacher Association. I recommend it for numerous reasons. One, you’ll get to know the culture of the school, which includes the administration, the teachers, the principals and other students. When you’re in the know, your student will most likely do better and when he/she does better, there’s an increased level of confidence and self-esteem. These are important during these years.

Another reason to add this organization to your own resume is the volunteerism and connections you get to the other parents. You learn what others are doing so your student can be connected, but when you log your hours to help the school, you get the perks. Instead of paying $5.00+ for football or basketball games, volunteer to work the concession stand, so you can watch the game (and eat) for free.

Carpool. Yes, remember those soccer Mom days? It’s time to revisit those, but at the next level. Many families now have two working parents, or working single parents. Another reason PTA is good, is for the networking. If your kids attend public school, many live around the same area, so work out a drop off/pick up schedule for school and school functions. Get to know your children’s friends AND their parents. It will make it easier to get them all here and there. It’s also about creating and maintaining that village that raises our children.

Here’s another idea, turn your parent network into a small couponing group. This is especially helpful if you have athletic or band students. They are forever needing snacks and the coaches can’t always take care of that, so as the parent group, pitch in and save on everyone’s pockets.

Think Second Hand. It’s time for dances and parties and such. It can get expensive if your child is popular or always wants to be the life of the party. My rule of thumb with my daughter, save the “big buck” stuff for Senior Year. It will mean more to them then and they’ll have something to look forward to. So, until then, go second hand. That can mean borrowing a dress or suit, wearing something they already have, using a dress or suit drive (which is more prominent around Prom time), or my personal favorite…Plato’s Closet. They are all things teenager and the best part is they can make a little money on the gently used clothing they no longer want.

So, my advice to parents of those hitting the high school scene is to keep it simple, use your resources and save where you can. I promise if you save now, you’ll be in better shape for those Sweet 16 parties and the ultimate party: Prom. Until next time, stay frugalicious!!

Frugalicious Diva
Follow me on Twitter at @FrugaliciousDva

No comments: