“School/Child Care” is part 12 and the last of my writing series. To see full complete spending categories, read my February 2016 newsletter at www.PrudentMoneyCoach.com.
If you are using Crown Financial Ministries Canada’s Percentage Guide, this School/Child Care is an extra expense that is not included in the 100% calculation. Thus, if you have this expense, you would need to reduce the percentage from other areas so that your total expense will not exceed 100%.
This month I will talk about typical school and child care expenses and ways to reduce or cut them; of course, you can always increase your income instead of cutting expenses.
Here are some expenses I have encountered and ways I think you can reduce or cut them. (PS: Send me an email <Effie[at]PrudentMoneyCoach[dot]com> if you would like to have the expenses in table format (nicer look); this site does not allow me to publish tables. )
Typical School Expenses and Ways to Reduce or Cut them
· Gather left-over stationaries from previous years and around your home. (PS: I still have pencil crayons from 5 years ago, still in good condition.)
· Ideally, you should budget for field trips, but if the cost is too much, ask for a subsidy from your school.
· You can choose community centres for cheaper cost. If the program is not offered there, then you may need to sacrifice in other areas to come up with enough money to join the program elsewhere.
· This is a big fundraising item for some schools. If your child enjoys hot lunches and the money is allocated in your budget, go ahead and order it. Not only will you support your child’s school, but it also means fewer lunches to pack. However, if your budget is tight and your child would like to have it, order it once every few weeks. This way, your child gets to enjoy it and the hot lunches will be really special because it comes only once every few weeks.
Other fundraising events such as book fairs, bake sales, or others
· You could be a buyer or a seller to help with the fundraising project. If you have a working budget, feel free to donate your time, money, or both. For example, if there is poinsettia sale around Christmas time, you could purchase one or a few for your home. It will save you a trip to the store and you’re helping the school at the same time. If there is a bake sale, you could participate as part of the sellers by baking something for sale.
· If money is really tight, you could donate your time to any of the fundraising events.
· In elementary school, there was always a class parent who coordinated class Christmas and end-of-school gifts for the teacher. I think this is a great idea because collectively you could purchase a better gift or gift-card for the teacher. For example, $10 may not buy you a great gift, but 15 x $10 = $150 would get you a better gift.
· However, if your budget is tight but you would like to give something, you and/or your child could make something instead of purchasing it.
Before and/or after school care and general child care expenses
· If you must use the before and/or after school care, make sure that your salary is more than the cost of care. It doesn’t make sense if you make enough just to pay for the cost of care. It would be better if you could find employment during school hours.
· The same goes for general child care expenses. You may be using a daycare or private nanny. If your income is not significantly higher than the cost of child care, perhaps you should re-think using child care services. Not only does it cost you money and energy, but you could potentially lose out on child benefit because of your higher income, not to mention exhaustion and lack of energy when you do have time to be with your children.
· If you know of other parents in similar condition, perhaps you can take turn caring for each other’s child(ren) or pool money together to pay for a nanny or a babysitter.
· By the way, if you hire a babysitter so you and your spouse can go on a date, it should be considered part of your entertainment expense, not child care expense.
Your own schooling
· Some people are tired of earning low wages. Going back to school is a good investment in oneself. Make sure that your new chosen career will generate more income than the current one, and the future pay will be more than the cost of school.
· Aside from taking money out of your RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) under LLP (Lifelong Learning Plan) program, you could also use your savings, or apply for scholarships and grants. Understand the terms and conditions for each source of funding. For example, does the scholarship require you to work for a particular sector after graduation? While in graduate school, I met other students who were funded by a particular organization or foreign government. As I understand it, these students must achieve good grades and upon graduation, return to the organization or the country to work a pre-determined number of years there.
· Lastly, don’t forget to check out your current company’s benefit plan. Some companies want their employees to excel and grow. Again, make sure you understand requirements from the company that must be met after graduation.
As with other types of expenses, if you must incur school and child care expenses, there are ways to reduce the cost. Sometimes when you have limited resources, you can become creative, utilize everything you have, and not waste money.
For more help with reducing your money-related stress, contact me at (six zero four) 728-5139 or Effie[at]PrudentMoneyCoach[dot]com. Take advantage of my free first assessment meeting to see if we are a good fit.