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Be Prepared for Unexpected School Expenses

You’ve bought the new backpack, lunch box and school supplies. Your kids have new shoes, and a few new outfits or uniforms. School is back in session and your bank account can take a breather, right? Well, not exactly. While back-to-school shopping is a big expense that takes a bite out of the family budget, spending for the school year doesn’t always end once classes begin. Here are several school-related expenses you may not have thought of. You’ll want to start planning and setting money aside for these now, so you’re ready when they come up during the year.

School Sports—As school districts operate on ever-tighter budgets, the cost to participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports teams, is transferred to the parents. You may be expected to pay for your child’s uniform, lodging for overnight stays to play away games, or even sideline snacks and Gatorade.      

Music & Drama Programs—Here again, costs that were traditionally paid by the school may be shifted to the parents. If your child wants to play an instrument, there may be a rental fee for it. If they want to participate in marching band, additional uniform rental fees might apply. Participating in orchestra could mean you’ll need to buy your child a formal dress or suit. Drama programs may require contributing to a fund to pay for costumes and stage sets.

Tutoring—If your child is struggling in a particular subject, tutoring can be the solution to help them understand the course material and avoid falling behind. While tutoring can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some great ideas for how you can save on tutoring, while getting your child the help they need.

College Entrance Exams—From the test prep to taking the ACT or SAT (or both), costs for college entrance exams can be hundreds of dollars, depending on where you live. For planning purposes, most college-bound high school students take these tests their junior year. One bit of good news, the largest publisher of ACT/SAT test prep materials recently lowered its prices, so you’ll actually spend less this year than the past few years. Something else to consider—if your child is planning to start out at a community college, rather than a university, ACT/SAT scores aren’t required for admission.

This & That—There will be other school-related expenses that pop up throughout the year. Be on the lookout for expenses related to field trips or overnight class trips. You’ll probably want to purchase holiday gifts for teachers and coaches. And if your child is having a growth spurt, you’ll end up purchasing more than one round of school clothes for the year.

If you need help reworking the family budget to afford school expense, our free online Credit Counseling can help. You’ll partner one-on-one with a trained counselor who can help you assess your current financial situation and recommend a plan of action.