For most kids, August is all about lazy days and finding ways to cool off from the summer heat. Along with the hum of cicadas and the occasional welcome breeze, there’s something else in the air right now. It’s that back-to-school feeling kids and their parents are sensing with each passing day.
This year, back to school spending may be a little more exciting than usual. Even for families who don’t like the summer to end, it is exciting to think that this school year might get us back to normal too.
After all the craziness of the last school year, that’s a welcomed thought. Kids will hopefully be able to gather for sports practices and games without too much worry, and families can hopefully attend school events like band concerts that so many communities missed out on last year.
Of course, if you’re a parent, you know what all this means: Back-to-school season can be expensive, especially if you’re prepping kids with sports and cheerleading gear, or instrument rentals, or just some new school clothes and shoes.
The researchers at consumerdecisions.org estimate that “school shopping” season is the second-biggest shopping period in the United States each year. (The biggest, of course, is the Christmas season.)
Have you got athletes in the house? Survey research released by Utah State University in 2017 found that the average family was spending a whopping $2,292 per year on sports and recreation. It’s likely increased since then.
More kids than ever are participating in school sports, according to data published last year by Ohio University. The number of kids playing high school sports has grown every year for the past 26 years, they said, and families around the country are spending an average of $671 per child on things like uniforms, participation fees and gear, not to mention additional lessons and coaching.
It’s great when kids really dive in and participate in school activities. That same study found that students who participate in sports at school are more likely to continue their education after high school and earn higher wages over their careers.
Families need strategies for making all of this more affordable and less stressful. These are some of our favorite ideas:
Most parents know the value of hand-me-downs. When it comes to sports gear, there may be kids in your neighborhood who have grown out of exactly the gear your child needs. See if your community does any events to help families swap for what they need. If not, talk with your neighbors about organizing one!
Many schools also help families connect in order to share gently-used sports, band or cheer uniforms or equipment. And second-hand or consignment stores are a great way to save money while helping your community recycle.
With an expensive time like back-to-school on the horizon, pay close attention to your family’s spending and see if there are ways you can save a few dollars.
Making lunch at home rather than buying it at work can help. Ditto for bringing coffee with you from home instead of buying it each day.
Also, you can make a detailed list of all the back to school spending you anticipate this year. Once you have a clear picture of what’s needed, you’ll be better able to plan for the coming months.
If you draw up your budget for back-to-school and find that you’ll need more than you have on hand, one option is taking out a small installment loan at a fixed rate. The “Friendly Franklin Folks” work with local families who are planning for expenses and help them to make the best possible decisions for their budget.
If you’re curious about a small personal loan for back to school spending or youth sports, there’s always someone there to answer all your questions. You can start your application online, and then sit down with your 1st Franklin Financial associate to ask questions, discuss all the details and complete your application.
It’s always a little bittersweet to see the summer end. But we’re already looking forward to cooler fall nights around a fire pit and the thrill of cheering for our kids as they play the sports they love. We wish your family a wonderful backtoschool season!
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