Black September! Are You Drowning?

You know what’s around the corner? School Startup, aka,  Black September.  Remember last year around school start up?  Yes, indeed.  Wasn’t it a giggle to write checks faster than a speeding bullet for gym outfits, school supplies, clothes that fit, hockey season, ballet classes, piano lessons, karate, after-school childcare.  Tra la la, what a lark.  More like a vulture. 

Do kids need all that stuff each year? They say that, you say that, but I don’t.  Because, realistically, how much money do you have available for September start up? 

Let’s take a tally: gym outfit–$40 per kid

School supplies, sans new backpack: $50 per kid

with new backpack: $80 per kid. Ouch, this is hurting already.

Sports/classes sign ups: $130? $250? per kid

Scouts, Guides: $35 per kid

Where are we?  We’re up to $250-400 depending on your choices.  And that’s per child. How can you possibly put aside that much money? YOu can, if you have to.  Get envelopes. 

The Envelope System

Using two to three regular envelopes, write the name of the savings category on the outside of the envelope, one for each: for example, School Fees, Recreation, After School Care.

On the outside, still, write the total amount you need to save for all the kids. For School Fees, If you have two kids, you’ll need $80 for gym fees, and $160 for school supplies including backpacks. Total: $240.  Sigh.

Next envelope: Recreation: do the same thing.  Don’t faint. It’s reality, but you can cope.  Say this mantra: Higher Guidance, please guide and protect me in my September spending. Say this from morning to night if you have to, all in a good cause: keeping your family  appropriately entertained, clean and safe in balance with other family needs and wants.

 What is the ceiling you are willing to spend, and what is the reality of fees you have to spend?  Say you just can’t afford the piano lessons, given you have so many other expenses at this time of year.  Why not delay those for a few months? Start them next January.  You don’t want to overload the kid with activities anyway.  The Hurried Child  by David Elkind is a great book which talks about  your child not having more than, are you ready, 6 hours of extra activity, including religious school, a week outside of school.  Can you whittle their lives to that? Yet, it’s healthier for the child, and for your budget. 

Oh, and just how will this money magically get into he envelopes?  Well, it’s the same old, same old: save  a bit from every paycheck between now and the expense.  Any windfalls of money you get in the meantime can be used, partly, to fund the Black September envelope. 

And buck up, eventually they grow up, finish school, and start their own families.  Think of what good role modelling you’re doing for them now, not going overboard on too many activities, and saving for the ones that matter.

You can do this.



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