Back to School Expenses: They Sure Add Up Quickly!

September is an expensive month. In fact, at times, I think I spend more money in September than I do in December at Christmas. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do spend a lot of money in September.

Back when the kids were in public school, there were school supplies to buy, which can run up to $70+ for two children. As a homeschooling mom, I still buy school supplies, but we don’t spend THAT much anymore. Another thing we’d have to buy, if we weren’t homeschooling, is a P.E. uniform for my daughter.

Even though we skirt the regular school district expenses, activities are starting up, and all of those activities come with a price. The boy started soccer this week. The girl will begin choir this month. And the boy goes back to AWANA this month. Fortunately the girl just goes to regular junior high youth group.

Each of those activities requires not only a registration fee, but a uniform. Fortunately my son’s soccer shirt still fits and he is in the same AWANA group as last year, so he gets to wear the same uniform. Unfortunately, my daughter moved up a level in choir, so I’ll need to buy her a choir outfit.

Then there’s the things we’re considering, but haven’t committed to yet: Karate and American Heritage Girls. Karate has a monthly fee, plus a uniform to buy. American Heritage Girls has a registration fee, a book to buy, and a uniform.

All of these payments come due in September. Fortunately after a tight September last year, I learned my lesson and budgeted a LOT of money for this September.

Mind you, I’m not complaining. I just see these things as part of the expense of having kids.* But if you don’t budget, these expenses can really take you by surprise.

The moral of the story: don’t forget to budget for all the things that come due when school starts.

If you have kids, do you find that September is an expensive month?

*Disclaimer: If my children were in a public or private school, I would limit them each to one activity plus AWANA/Youth Group. But since I homeschool them, I need to consider their social needs, and sometimes that means more activities. Again, I see it as part of the expense of homeschooling.

Photo by Bhamgal.


By , on Sep 8, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Kelly:

    Oh and I love how they send home the PTA school fundraising catalog that’s filled with overpriced junk that I have no use for. That went RIGHT in the trash!!

    • Lynnae:

      I hear ya. I’d much rather just write a check to the school.

  2. Kelly:

    My son is in 1st grade. They sent home the supply list for 1st grade on the last day of kindergarten last year. Then after I bought everything at the beginning of August when you can still find the stuff at the stores, his 1st grade teacher sent a letter to our house with an introduction letter AND a list of her OWN requested supplies, most of which were similar to the list from the school but now, it’s two weeks before school starts and I have to find 2 prong-2 pocket folders one each of red, yellow, orange, blue and purple. Um yeah YOU try to find those purple folders less than two weeks before the start of school!! I had to go to 5 different stores before I found one that had them! I did load up on them once I found them. One store near me had them 10 for a dollar!! Two years ago, I stocked up on 1 subject notebooks for 5 cents each when Walmart had them that cheap. I got two cases. Also stocked up on pencils, glue sticks and folders as I’m sure the original ones will wear out by Christmas break.

    Our son is signed up for flag football…two nights a week for a month. Tonight we signed him up for Cub Scouts. I think he’ll really enjoy it since he is an only child and there are no kids in our neighborhood who are his age. So far those are the only activities he’s signed up for.

  3. I guess homeschooling has some serious financial advantages that I didn’t realize. My only tips would be to try to load up on notebooks/folders/pens/pencils etc. when you see a really good deal. Most of this stuff lasts a long time, and this way you can be prepared for many years rather than being forced to pay whatever the price is during the back to school season.

  4. Lisa:

    Come to think of it, I think I also spend more in September than at Christmas! I never thought of it until after reading your post. I’m going to have to start saving up for September’s expenditures in advance. School supplies and clothes are getting so expensive!

  5. Sam:

    Sept is very expensive & as they older is seems the cost of things rises.
    Like football was $35 to register but now it’s $90 because he’s in a different bracket where there are more safety protocols & equipment involved. I’ve been advised to brace for such a thing next year in baseball.
    Once i have med bills paid off I’m going to have a separate acct set up & have some monthly amt auto deposited in there to help with activity expenses. I figure that way my son can contribute when he mows lawns & he can also see resource allocation – and decide how much he really wants to invest in a given thing. I’m thinking of giving the impetus that any money left by a certain date/time (I was thinking January) will be rolled over in to his car fund.

    Lord bless our new principle – she’s put dates for things like pictures on the weekly school newsletter calendar as soon as she has the date which is making it much easier to budget for school related activities. That said, Sept & Oct are very crunchy with extra expenses!

  6. I am just barely learning the ropes of the expenses of September. It used to be that classes were starting for my husband and myself in college and it was time to buy books and pay tuition. Then we had several years off. Now my oldest is in 4 day a week public preschool. He doesn’t need a ton of stuff, but a new backpack, some school clothes, and a few supplies do add up. Plus this year he is playing Fall tee ball, which comes with a registration fee, and we bought him a little tee ball set to practice with at home. I will have to remember to budget for this stuff next year!

  7. Last year my kids all started school for the first time (we had homeschooled). Wow, did that blow our budget. I just had no idea what to expect so didn’t have a plan. This year was different. I set aside $300 to cover fees, supplies, etc. It helped, but wasn’t enough. I told my husband that next year we need at least $400.

  8. Pamela:

    Absolutely. My kids are in public school and we are given supply lists for both the kids and the classroom! Add to that they want you to join the PTA and then make a donation to the school to pay for music and art programs. My kids are in Taekwondo and every 3 months they are expected to test for the next belt level. That is also a fee! My kids are at the level where they are starting to use weapons (nunchuks, bo-staff etc) which are an additional cost. But like you said – it is the cost of having kids. I consider martial arts a necessity in this world we live in.

  9. Angel:

    TOTALLY!!! We homeschool and we have theater class, co-op fees, extra classes and Awana all due this month. Ugh! We could use some school supplies, but I’m going wait until we absolutely need them.

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