Show choir, traveling soccer, honors choir, and violin. DD2 is loaded with extras in her days beyond school. Add driving to the list, and the added car, gas, and insurance expenses, and the family of Sam has to find more techniques to stay ahead of the budget. Granted, some of the added gas money will be neutral, as her driving means I'm not using my car gas to bring her, and as there is not a double round trip (as sometimes I go home and then drive back), With her siblings, we provided one tank of gas a month, which covered school commute, and the basic school related activities. After that, they were on their own, and it came from their spending or earned money. This really helped them develop an appreciation of how costly the extra trips are, and that driving is a privilege and an added expense. We'll continue this plan for DD2. She will need to learn to never buy gas without a coupon, minimum of $0.05 off per gallon.She gets good grades, which helps keep insurance manageable through a good student discount-essential!
2017 will be the year of brown bagging it, or "coolering" it, as it were. We'll use our lunch bag and small coolers for days out, and soccer nights and weekends. We will not leave the house without a refillable water bottle. For show choir, the expectation is for the kids to use the concessions, as that helps cover the host schools costs. I'll go with tradition, but still send her with a packed portable breakfast and snack for the bus ride there and home. (These are 15-18 hour days with travel and competition.) Show choir does a much better job with concessions.Typically the menus include soups, salads, pasta dishes, fruit, and vegetables, and not just the sports concession fare of popcorn, candy, hot dogs and pizza. Spending $10 on a lunch and supper when I know it is going to be decent makes a difference, and I just roll it into the cost of the activity that we budget for.
We'll continue for the time being with the shared 30 minute lesson, and 15 minute private, which means we are getting 15 more minutes of lesson than if all solo, and she has more motivation to practise with her friend outside of the lesson. Generally, the teacher has at least one lesson time a month with a conflict, and that saves us the $30 for the week. I'll pay the full amount, and slowly build a credit, so we end with a month-two months a year with no lesson fees. Then, that months fee can go towards a future payment for another activity.
I've talked about working opportunities to earn dollars in her various accounts. I will be putting those earnings in my newly coined "Rain Drops" fund, suggested by the Hawaii Planner. I like that phrase, as it goes with the theme of saving for a rainy day. All together, DD2's extra curriculars come to $3300. While a lot of money, it is nothing compared to what I'm sure other families have invested. Granted, we are involved in organizations that do a lot of fundraising and use volunteer labor, and DH and I put in our time dues to keep the fees low. These activities give her and us, a lot of enjoyment, so are worth staying in the budget. My job is to manage how that budget gets implemented.
For those of you with kids at home, how are you navigating the expenses? Do you work more to earn, or cut from other parts of the budget, or a combination of strategies?