Why does September school startup always come as such an unpleasant shock? Is it because it is a black hole for money? First, there are school clothes and school supplies, like the new backpack which will cause your kid to see a chiropractor for the rest of her life, gym clothes, lockers fees, art supplies, and who knows what-all. The teacher usually spells out even more items in a letter if you’re lucky enough to find it.

A few days later come the fees for sports teams, dance, Boy Scouts, and other after school programs. Who can afford all this without pawning the family silver?

This year, you. Because there will be no more hiding your head in the sand. You will save for the inevitable and breathe free! Well, not free really. Instead, let’s say, you’ll breathe easy.

Of course, if you do not have the money to pay for all of this, you have other choices: you can apply to the Salvation Army for school supplies. You can appeal to the school Principal for relief from paying the school fee. You can take her out of hockey and him out of dance. These are decisions you can make.

But, ig you have decided an expense is necessary, fun, or a growth experience for your kids, here’s how to afford it: In the same way Christmas is a predictable event, September rolls around after August every year.

Look back. How much did last year cost you? If you don’t have records because you’d rather not remember, and I’m with you, take a good guess. Put a figure beside each one:
Ballet: $300/year
Boy/Girl Scouts: $45
Hockey: $450/year
September School clothes/shoes: $75 x number of kids
School Supplies/fees: $80/year x number of kids
Divide: $950 /24 pays = $40 per pay

If you have a year before September rolls around, putting aside $40 per child from each paycheck will mean you’ll be laughing instead of crying come Black September.

If you don’t have that much time, divide the Total Cost by the number of paychecks you do have left before September. Yes, it will cut deep. Accept that cold water dousing called reality. Pray to the god of your choice for calm, and the ability to improve next year.

You can avoid a repeat if you will put away the money per paycheck from now on. Then when next September rolls around, instead of watching your hand shake as you write the checks, you will be calm, cool, and smug!

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