As the summer is about to come to a close in mid-August, when we’re pulling out our warmer sweaters, a time for unpacking from that great family trip, as we watch the daylight slowly disappear earlier each night, the time to close our cottages is upon us, a time to think about closing our outdoor pools. As we watch summer fade, we notice that in the heat of the summer was a chance to create our fondest memories. We then realize that back to school is mere weeks away. My sons is joining Juniour Kindergarten, as a newbie Mom in this area, I am all to inexperienced at this, though my budget friendly notions are set keen on my mind.
I notice a sense of excitement in the air, mixed with bitter sweet thoughts; caught somewhere between the memories we made together and the excitement of a fresh new start. It’s time to plan for the year ahead, with that comes an added hint of reality that denotes strong peaks in high stress levels. Where the days lazing by the pool, catching some rays and escaping in our summer time slumber are all about to come to a halt. Our thoughts now turn to an expensive list of necessary and needed school items! The shift between summer and fall can be overwhelming, especially on our pocket books. I decided to devise a list of a savings plans for those money-conscience, budget-friendly parents who like to save when and where they can.
- CLOTHING DRIVES
Kids seem to grow out of clothes and into new sized clothes so quickly. Keeping up with their growth spurts can be a huge cost, buying new clothing items can be rather expensive, even when shopping at low cost department stores, a hefty clothing bill can surely add up. I spent the last year searching for clothing drives run by local community organisations. I tumbled on many of these drives via online, where many local churches and other wonderful organisations posted these events on our fabulously friendly, fan favourite facebook.
Clothing drives have amazing selections for the whole family. Not only did I decide to go to all of the clothing drives in my area. I knew that Logan, my four year old Son, who already is a year ahead in growth as it is, that he would need an even bigger size for the following school year. I was able to find him a wide variety of suitable clothing as he starts JK, saving bundles as I carefully chose his new outfits.
Knowing that he is still not up to the task of tackling zippers on his pants, I decided to find him pants that have an elastic waste. Dreading potty time without his Mom by his side, I am hoping to eliminate any embarasement that this learning curve could cost him.
Second-hand stores have plenty of stock for every age of growth for everyone in the family. Second-hand stores have been my savings grace for my first go at back to school. Not only did I save so much money over the past year as I took stock in what Logan would need to be fit for school, I saved myself some last minute shopping stress and a crucial amount of time that could be better spent together as we are drawing near the end of summer.
As I gathered clothes for Logan, I noticed that I must have saved thousands and even got everything Logan needed to look smart and comfortable as he makes his mark in JK. All that’s left to buy for Logan now is the ever essential socks and underwear. Seeing that I was able save so much, I am able to spring for Logan to have a pair of brand new shoes, knowing that proper footwear is a must at any age. That, along with a fresh new hair-cut, he will not only be ready for school, he will be willing to get up and go!.
As September rolls in, I will be thinking ahead about winter wear. Visiting clothing drives and second-hand stores once again. Finding him the most outstanding winter coat, barely worn is on my list of must-haves. Saving for Christmas is in near site, where “Santa Claus” may need to cut back a bit in order to bring every kid on his “Nice” list their Christmas Wish! As Logan grows through the years, so do I, but that doesn’t mean that my debt needs to grow along with it.
2. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED WITH GIFT CARDS
I have noticed that schools, especially elementary schools have become quite spirited in introducing themed days to their curriculum. It is fun for kids to go to school on pink days, yellow days or on crazy hair days. These are just some of the themes I have heard other Mom’s mention. Honestly, I don’t believe my Son owns a Pink shirt. Being so budget conscience, I have decided to purchase department store gift cards each month, not costing over $25.00. Never knowing when I will need to run out in a spur to fetch a pink shirt for my little guy. Not only am I ready for the anything with my handy gift card in hand, I am saving my Son days of ‘trife” as he won’t feel left out form a class full of kids sporting “Pink” on pink days!
Another great thing about having gift cards on hand is during times when the cupboards and fridge look darringly slim, or times when coming up with fresh and new lunch ideas have visciously ran out. Being able to dash out with a handy gift card in hand could save on the stirred up chaos within the home! Not only will it help fill your kids lunch boxes or bags, it will help fill up their tummies so they can get back to learning. Their Teacher’s will appreciate it and so will their grumbling tummies.
3. IT’S PICTURE DAY
Not only is school pictures fun for kids, their Teacher’s and for their classmates. It is also so much fun for parents. Seeing everyone dressed for success, in their best dresses, or favourite pant sets can be such a dear moment to capture. I know I appreciated my Mom saving all of my school pictures, remembering my Teachers and classmates year after year can be a great way to look back. For parents who are wanting a complete set of pictures to hold on to, or hang up on the wall, but who also want to save money, there is a great way to have the best of both worlds with only spending a quarter of the costs.
When you order your picture package, whether your kid had a bad hair day or has juice stains on their face, purchasing “Wallet Sized” pictures then taking them to a “Picture Printing Kiosk” blowing up the small wallet sized pictures to a more suitable wall frame size, can be a great idea in savings, as well it makes great gift ideas. Giving bigger pictures to family, friends and loved, now that’s a double savings!
Having memories of our kids as they grow is important to us and also so important for them. Looking back on school days can be quite gratifying as they close the gap into adulthood. Cutting on costs can be even more gratifying, while using the extra money for a rainy day can be the most gratifying of all.
4. BULK LUNCHES AND SNACKS
There is no getting around it, I know what my Son likes to eat. Knowing that sending him to school with celery or carrots may be a waist in food, also a big waist of money. I am sure to find spoiled food in his lunch box when he comes home from school, throwing out massive amounts of fresh foods is not in my budget. Not only will he be left hungry after choosing not to eat the veggie snacks, I am sure his mood will sour, feeling rumbles in his tummy during school and when he arrives home. This is one area that I am not wanting to toy with. Eating a well balanced lunch is mandatory for a proper day of learning and getting along. I have decided to buy his school lunches in bulk.
My son loves pizza, so buying store bought pizza at $3.53 to make the night before, heated in the oven, then slicing up a couple of slices topped with veggies such as green peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms. It is a great way to save on costs and time, not to mention adding a mix of veggie toppings can help him maintain a balanced lunch without all the fuss. A pizza for one person, can sometimes last up to two or three days when stored properly. Also making for a great after school snack. By heating up the pizza in the microwave, then packing it tight with tin foil can keep it fresh and warm for lunch time. Not only am I saving on costs, I am saving on time. While the oven cooks the pizza, we could be having special family time. As the oven takes care of the pizza, I could help Logan tackle his homework.
My Son enjoys eating Chicken or Veggie hot dogs. Sending him with hot dogs is one way to save on costs. I find that he likes it when I cut the Chicken/Veggie hot dogs in bite size for easy handling, tin foil can keep his favourite food warm and his belly full. Crescent rolls found in the frozen food section costs just a couple of bucks making 8 crescent rolls. Rolling them with Chicken or Veggie Wiener’s, preparing and cooking them the night before school can be a real time saver and money saver. Adding a slice of ham and cheese or Jam dolloped in the centre, can be the perfect choice to spark your kids taste buds at lunch time.
Although you know your kid may not eat the celery you pack them, adding cheese whiz to the menu or tuna fish already pasted on or in a small tupperware container for dipping is sure to be a big hit, as well as healthy and tasty. Not only will your child be getting a proper source of vitamins and minerals, I am sure their Teacher’s will appreciate your efforts.
While picking up a few cans of fruit costs only 99 Cents, portioning them into small tupperware containers is a great way to give your little learner the gift of health and balance. Feeding your kid with nourishment for the brain and body can go along way in their learning throughout the years. When they come home with their first A+ you will know why!
Summers come and summers go, but summer memories can last a lifetime! Trying out these savvy saving tips can benefit in so many ways. Saving for that family vacation next year can be your families ticket to making even more memorable moments together. Where saving thousands of dollars in clothing costs, food costs and school costs, not to mention saving on time, can be very rewarding! Not only rewarding for you as you watch your child learn and grow, these tips can be very rewarding to your savings account! Making the most of our summer’s together for all of our future family memories, as we laze together in the summer slumber and sunshine, by the pool or at the cottage.
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