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Unplanned Spending


Well, you guys called it!

On my budget post a lot of people commented that we should build in a “Miscellaneous” category for those undoubtedly unplanned expenses that would pop up. No sooner did you say it, than I received this notice from my kids’ kinder classroom:

I covered up the name of the school for privacy reasons.

They want $15 per scholar (we have twins, so $30 for both) to participate in a special ceramic art thing. My mom has taken the girls to a ceramics store in the past and I recall it being crazy pricey (going off memory – and I’m not the one who paid – but I want to say it was close to $40-50 each). So I know that $15/student really isn’t a bad deal. But, of course, it’s something we didn’t budget or plan for and both kids are BEGGING to be included in the art activity. So….we’ll end up paying the $30 and letting them participate. Sigh.

On the bright side, we’ve been doing really well with our food budget so far. I know we’re only 4 days into the month, but I’m tracking every single penny and plan to do weekly updates to help hold me accountable. I got a little hammered on how crazy/inflated our food budget is (as I was expecting), and I’ve made it my personal goal to slash the category by at least 20%. It will take a little creativity, but I know it can be done (or…..as many commenters posted…maybe it takes no creativity at all??? Like, instead of being “creative”, we’ll be having chicken, chicken, and more chicken. And when we get sick of chicken, perhaps a sloppy joe or spaghetti night. lol. Really though – I appreciate all the tips and suggestions!)

Hopefully we’ll save enough on our food budget that this unplanned $30 expense won’t be a big deal.

If your kids have a “special” activity at school that costs extra money, do you let them participate? Would you set a limit on how much you’d spend? 

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  • Reply debtor |

    i don’t have kids but my friends do. I get so annoyed by the number of things they keep having to pay for as “fun activities”. Gifts for velentines, gifts for easter, for the holidays etc and you have to buy for everyone in the class so nobody feels left out. I’m always threatening i’ll be the mean mom who never contributes and my poor kid will be branded the cheapo or something . But then i’ll work extra hard to make them realzie that that’s not true friendship. Lol – who knows, i might have a kid and become the one with individualized party favors.

    Anyway, my point is, whenever my friends run to the store yet again to buy little bags of candy or treats or whatever for the whole class of like 20 or so ppl, I wonder about the people whose parents really can’t afford it…. I just have a thing against mandatory voluntary gift giving.


    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh, I’m with you! In addition to all the parties and things, our teacher also often asks for school supplies (in addition to the supplies we had to buy at the beginning of the year). I try to donate what I can because I know if I do not, a lot of times the money for that stuff comes out of the teacher’s own pocket! But it’s pretty crazy how often we’re hit up for money.

  • Reply Marie |

    I just got 6 field trip notices each with a price tag involved, my son told me he needed $6 Tuesday night because his scout troop got tshirts for camp. Food donation sign ups that only 4 people are signing up for so I end up signing up for more slots. We are at a title 1 school. Because of that and the lack of resources we have to cost share for most activities. But since AZ doesn’t pay its teachers anything do we expect them to cover all the costs? It’s a no win situation. And then there are all the fundraisers. I have a line item in my budget now to cover the first $50/month in school related requests. Don’t forget yearbooks, school pictures, holiday parties, supply requests , and if you let your kids participate in the music programs instrument rentals, performance attire, and music books. It’s pretty pricey to get a free public education.

    • Reply Ashley |

      THIS!!!! Our kids’ teacher this year is a first-year teacher, too. She’s great and we love her, but she’s asked for WAY MORE than the other kinder teachers (I know because I’m friends with parents who have kids in the other classes), because she’s requested items for a ton of “start-up” costs. Things like seat-back pockets ($20/each), bookshelves ($20/each), she even asked for an Amazon echo and someone gifted it to her!! I try to donate what I can (there’s so much more – fun colored printer paper, additional art supplies, all the things you mentioned above…), but I absolutely refused at the echo. Like, what the heck? Is that really necessary?

      • Reply Tricia |

        YES!!! We have a 4K’er who is also with a brand new teacher this year. We are constantly receiving notes of “wish list” items – way more than ever came home with our older kid when he was in the same program. However – no echo yet, ha!!! I also try my best to donate when I can … especially if I have the items at home already (cotton balls, q tips, paper towels, etc). It can be overwhelming at times, I totally agree with you. I thought we would save money when we had both kids in school and were not paying for all day daycare but now I’m not so sure … am guessing all of the school “things” probably add up to what we were paying in daycare!

      • Reply Angel |

        As a teacher, I can absolutely attest that even with the supplies you send in, more comes out of her pocket. My budget for my classroom every month is $200, and I often go over. I realize that my parents are under tough budgets but so am I – and I don’t make that much either.

        Just had to comment for me and my fellow teachers out there who end up spending our paychecks on our students instead of our own kids. I have to pass on the “fun” opportunities a lot because the money just isn’t there. So before you go breaking apart the wishlist, ask yourself if you can’t make it your 5100 a month income, how you expect her to make it on her 2500 a month (if she’s lucky!) income.

  • Reply Lisa |

    We’ve had a budget for “Kid’s School Expenses” over the past several years. A few years into #1’s schooling, I started asking other parents what expenses (and major projects for parents, like family trees, overnights to living history, etc.) were coming each year. Not perfect, but certainly helpful. (This all ends for us in about 7 weeks!) There will always be unexpected expenses; reviewing past number details and asking/knowing what’s coming is very important, actually the vital part, to budgeting. Arbitrary goal numbers are not effective, imo.

  • Reply JayP |

    Oh, just wait. It gets more expensive as they get older! Travel sports, multiple birthday party invites, uniforms, on and on! haha. At least you’ll save on childcare so you should end up positive. Look at the birght side – I have been paying $700 month for 8 years for private school! At least you won’t have that!

    • Reply Sarah |

      I was just going to comment that Ashley has only just begun with all the extras you are asked to pay for at school. It’s never ending!

  • Reply Katie |

    One more food tip, check and see if Zaycon foidsis in your area. They have events where you buy meat & seafood in bulk. It’s a bargain, and I’ve found the quality to be outstanding.

So, what do you think ?