September’s nearly halfway through, and school started almost two weeks ago. You feel like you should be well into the swing of the new term, but you (and the kids!) are having a little trouble settling into things. If this is you, and you’re finding that in the chaos of daily life cash is working its way out of your wallet faster than you’d like, then follow a few of these ‘back to school transition tips’ to make things a little easier.
Make everyone the same lunch
As a seasoned tactician you’re probably already doing it, but if not (and if they don’t have school dinners), then it’s a great way to save both time and money. If you and the kids all go off to school or work with a packed lunch then make everyone the exact same thing. We all know that buying in bulk is cheaper, and you’ll save yourself time and stress by making cheese sandwiches across the board rather than a costly medley of individual requests.
There are also some things, like carrot sticks or biscuits, that can be packaged at the beginning of the week ready to slip into a lunch box or school bag every day without thinking. It stops waste, as everything is portioned up and used, and it lowers stress levels!
Re-set your monthly budget
Summer budgets are different to school time budgets. There are different costs to account for in the summer months, like summer camp, family activities, or summer day care costs. If you’ve tweaked your budget to accommodate for these temporary costs then it’s time to tweak it back to school time normality.
Re-allocate your money accordingly, and do it as soon as possible to stop confusing misspends or last minute panic buys. You may think you have a ton of cash left over because you haven’t spent anything on ‘theme parks’, but then you’re suddenly hit with ‘gymnastics club fees’ and it all comes tumbling down again. Make everyday saving easy with Oval Money by setting personalised saving steps such as rounding up your spare change every time you spend on your card, or setting up a fixed amount you want to save each week.
Set limits on extra curricular activities
After school clubs are necessary for everyone’s sanity. It’s also great to see your kids enjoy and excel at activities that are not related to academia. It lets them develop as people, make friends, and learn important life lessons. Unfortunately however, they can be really costly. Look at your funds and decide exactly what you can afford. Then, sit down and tell your kids exactly how many activities they are allowed to take this school year.
If they know in advance they can have time to process the information and then decide for themselves which activities are their priority. It avoids disappointment and tears at a later date, and it’s actually a great way to teach them self-reflection and the importance of prioritising.
Get on top of after school care
Maybe your kids are still too young to stay at home alone whilst you’re at work. If that’s the case, then after school care can be an expensive necessity. If possible, it’s always great if you can get family and friends to care for them at a discounted rate, sometimes even for free.
If that’s not possible, then look around for other mum’s you trust in the same position as you who you may know through work or school, and approach them to discuss setting up a rota. If there are four of you then you may be able to set up flexible working hours one week a month at work in order to take your turn at caring for the kids after school.
Alternatively, look for any free after school care clubs in the local community that have good reviews and high level of community trust. You can find these on message boards, in church newsletters, or on district or county websites.
Evening meal plans
They take stress out of weekly dinner times. They’re cheaper to do because you know exactly what you’re cooking when you go to the supermarket. You can arrange meals that use duplicate ingredients during the week, and it reduces the probability of you panic buying the first meal that comes to mind. This translates to real savings, as you don't spend so much money on produce or ingredients you won't use. You can plan around supermarket deals and try to incorporate seasonal foods into your plans, which tend to be cheaper than produce that needs to be flown in from other countries.
Involving the kids in this is also a great idea. It gives them ownership of their meal-time and allows you to open discussions on nutrition and health so that they learn from a young age the value of food and the importance of eating healthily.