Planning and Budgeting for The School Year

Planning & Budgeting for The School Year

What to Plan for When Your Kids Go Back to School

by Ashley Parks

For many of us with school age children, summer is a break from the routine and a time for new experiences and activities.  As the summer break comes to a close, we should take pause and think about what this next school year may bring.  What is the new routine going to look like?  Get everyone on the same page so that expectation are set from the get go.

What are your financial expectations?  You may be buying uniforms, back-to-school supplies, and gear for those new extracurricular activities.  This is a great time to do some financial preparation.  What are the expenses going to be for this school year?  What activities are you and you children going to be involved in that cost money?  Really look at where your money is going to be allocated this year so you’re ready when those expenses come up so you’re not sacrificing other goals.  Ask the school if there is a list of activities and supplies that your child will need during the school year.  What class parties are you going to be buying items for?  By having an idea of what you’ll need during the year, you can keep an eye out for sales and items on discount.  Look for uniform re-sales and pre-owned sports equipment to get what you need at a better price.

Before the kids head back to school, grab the calendar, some pens and paper and get your family together for a family meeting.  Allow everyone to discuss their expectation of the school year.  What does your child expect?  Are there any fears in entering the next grade?  Are there any classes or activities they want to take?  As parents, what do you expect from your child for the year?  Will the homework load be greater and how much time will they need to be spending on it after school each day?

What will their chores be during the school year?  As discussed in my book, The Saving Seed: Growing a Financially Healthy Family Tree, chores are unpaid work around the house to help teach your children about responsibility and work ethic.  Chores have been shown to increase responsibility, including financial responsibility, in children.  The goal is four chores.  Have a clear discussion about what chores will be and what the consequences of not doing chores are.  A consequence example may be less screen time, time in front of the television or computer.  Establish both chores and consequences during the family meeting.

In addition to chores, what will your child do this year to earn allowance?  What monetary value will that allowance be?  Explain ways they can earn allowance and decide together what they’ll do to earn it.  By having your child start to work for allowance and in turn use that money for things like toys, games and treats, you’re teaching your children how to earn money and pay for items they want.  As the parent, you need to be clear and stick with the agreement.  If your child doesn’t earn his or her allowance yet still begs for that toy, instead of giving in and buying it for them, explain that they need to earn their allowance and the reward it being able to buy those items.  If you bail them out, you’re sending the message that you’re not really serious about them earning money and that when they fail they’ll get bailed out.

If you have older children, will they be doing any work outside the home to earn some extra money?  What financially will they be responsible for?  Examples may be contributing to their gas money if they are driving or helping to pay for a trip they’d like to go on.  We want our children to be able to reach their goals and with effort on their part.  By putting your heads together and strategizing, you’re increasing their chances of success.

There are wonderful financial seeds to plant in your child such as chores and allowance.  I break down each age and stage of your child’s development with wonderful and practical ways to plant healthy financial seeds in your children in my book and workbook.  Visit my website at to pick up your copy and start the school year off on the path to growing a financially healthy family.

The Saving SeedAshley Parks is a Certified Financial Planner and Author of The Saving Seed: Growing a Financially Healthy Family Tree;




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