It’s a brand new school year and you know what that means: it’s time to start spending. Your kids need new school clothes, new school supplies; they’ll need you to pay for extracurricular activities and the supplies required for those activities, etc. The start of the school year is an incredibly expensive time…but it doesn’t have to strain your budget. There are a lot of changes you can make that will reduce your spending in other areas to make those school costs easier to cover.
No, we don’t necessarily mean with clothing (though, depending on where you live, this might already be a good idea). We’re talking about your household services like cable, internet, phone, etc. Instead of paying for all of these costs separately, bundling them up through a single provider can cut your bill by 50% or maybe even more, depending on what you’re already spending. For example, your current provider might be charging you close to $200 for TV, Internet, Phone, etc. According to the current Fios Internet page, though, that same bundle costs around $80.
It’s the school year. You do not need to have subscriptions to all of the music and other entertainment streaming services anymore–especially now that DVRs and OnDemand offerings have gotten so much better. Put your Hulu on hold. Go streaming-only on Netflix or put that subscription on hold as well. Deal with the commercials on Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. instead of paying a monthly fee to avoid them. Just by doing these things you can save between $20-$50 a month!
It can be tempting to have everybody do their homework separately, in their own rooms. It can certainly help keep the peace! Still, separating everybody increases the amount of power your home consumes. Corralling everybody together around the table reduces your power consumption and allows you to keep an eye on everyone–making sure they’re actually doing their homework and not surfing YouTube or texting their friends.
Speaking of reducing your home’s power consumption, doing homework together around the table is just one way to reduce the amount of money that you will spend on electric bills. Imposing device curfews (there are apps that will help you do this) cuts down on the amount of charging that needs to happen. Cutting off power to non-essential recipients by unplugging them during the day while everyone is at school and work can also help cut down on vampire power costs. And, of course, there are literally dozens of small changes you can make in your home to reduce your family’s power consumption. Check them out to see if there is anywhere that you might be able to make improvements.
Trying to keep up with everybody’s extracurricular activities, doctor and dentist appointments, play dates, study groups, etc. means spending a lot of time in the car. This means spending a lot of money on gas (even if you have a hybrid). Look for carpooling buddies who can help you reduce this expense. For example, you might agree to ferry one daughter and a few of her teammates home from volleyball practice if one of those teammates’ parents agrees to be the chauffeur for your other daughter and her friends to and from their weekly library study group. This will be especially helpful if your kids are on the same teams/in the same groups as the siblings of another family. You might even get together with other parents and set up a ride-sharing group!
Swap It Out
There are a lot of great websites out there that are set up to facilitate sharing stuff for free. This can be a great way to get athletic equipment, musical instruments, even basic school supplies. You might even set up a sharing group among the families at your kids’ schools so that you’ll know where these items are coming from. Offer to trade your own stuff out or to do favors like lawn mowing, helping with the baking for the bake sale, etc. in exchange for the use of an outgrown bicycle, etc. Get creative!
Note: this used to be a fantastic way to save money on other trades like books, CDs, DVDs, games, etc. Now that those mediums have gone primarily digital, though, the sharing and handing down of them have gotten much more difficult.
The great thing about these tips is that they don’t just save you money during the fall season. They can save you money all year long–even during school breaks! What are some of the ways your family has offset the cost of sending kids to school?