How a School Year Line Item Can Save Your Budget

From class parties to school supplies to new clothing and beyond, the cost of sending a kiddo to school can sometimes feel enormous. Today we’re chatting about how a school year line item can save your yearly budget, and I’m giving you the ideas I wish someone had shared with me early on. Sound like something you need? Well then, let’s get started.

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How a School Year Savings Fund Can Save Your Budget

Well hey there and welcome back to the Financial Fix Up Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Brumley, and today we are talking about how a school year line item can save your budget. And trust me, it’s had my back on more occasions than I can count.

And today I’m talking specifically to the parents, but I also think that this can apply to anyone who has a seasonal flow to their year – whether that’s taking summer off entirely or backing down on their hours or maybe income comes in more in the summer than in the winter, whatever it might be. So, like everything I offer here on this podcast, take what you need and leave what you don’t.

And can I ask a favor? If you haven’t had the chance to rate and review this podcast yet, would you do so, please? You can take a quick moment to pause this episode and do so now. And honestly, it’s one of the best ways to support and help the podcast apps know that this is a podcast to share with more people. So, on most podcast apps, you can click to the main screen of the Financial Fix Up Podcast, scroll all the way down to the bottom and there will be a place for you to select five stars and then leave a couple sentences about what you like about the show.

So, a few episodes back I talked specifically about savings funds that all families should have. I’ll link to that episode in the show notes, but one of the funds I mentioned was a school year savings fund.

And if you missed that episode, I highly recommend you go listen to it, but very simply a savings fund is just money that you put aside each month for a specific purpose. In this case, it’s money that you budget monthly for any expenses that might come up throughout the school year. Otherwise known as a line item in your budget. And, rather than getting caught with a huge expense, say, at back-to-school time, you’ve planned for it all year long and have enough money in that fund to cover the costs without ruining your August or September budget. Make sense?

Consider Those School-Year Expenses

When we first started out with our school-year fund, I made sure to budget enough each month to cover the back to school expenses in the fall, including school supplies, new clothing, and shoes. But this goes well beyond just back-to-school expenses. What I didn’t budget for is every other activity, field trip, sport, concert, class party…you probably get the picture.

In fact, every month of the school year comes with it’s own challenges and today I want to spend a little time bringing those to light with the hope that you’ll be able to plan accordingly throughout the upcoming school year so that you aren’t caught off guard. Sound good?

August and September

Let’s start with August and September which are typical back-to-school months for most public school students. And I’ve grouped these two months together because the back-to-school sales typically start at the beginning of August and go through September.

Some of the common things that come up during these two months could include:

  • haircuts for the kids,
  • back to school clothes/uniforms,
  • shoes,
  • school supplies,
  • fall sports clothing and gear,
  • enrollment fees,
  • books,

…and plenty of others, but you get the point. Even back-to-school goes beyond just the school supplies, so it’s a great idea to include the cost of these items in your school-year savings fund.


Then there’s October, which might seem like a calm month for some, but as far as holidays go, Halloween comes at the end of the month. I don’t know about you, but the cost involved with Halloween costumes, candy, and class party goodies, comes as a surprise to me each and every year. I think it’s because it’s at the end of the month, so at the start of October, I’m really not thinking about it. When I incorporate these things into my savings fund, I’m no longer caught off guard and my kids don’t miss out on the fun.


November in our area is when the weather starts to get a bit cooler. So depending on where you live, snow pants, coats, hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, long underwear, wool socks, and boots might be in order.

Now, you may need to add these items in with October’s expenses if you live in an area that gets colder before November but we find that where we live in Eastern Washington, we can normally make it through October with fall jackets. So, definitely adjust as needed.

Keep in mind that November is also a month that typically brings parent-teacher conferences for those elementary and middle school kiddos. That can mean half days or even full days off from school and might require additional childcare if both parents work outside of the home. By adding this expense to your school year savings fund ahead of time, you’ll be able to focus on your child’s school progress rather than that failing budget.


By December, if your kiddo grows the way that mine did, they’ve outgrown their nice pants, shirts, and dress shoes just in time for you to need an all-black outfit for the Christmas concert. Right? Haha. By having this on your radar at the beginning of December and planning for it with your school-year savings fund, you’ll be able to enjoy concert day without an emergency trip to the mall for a new outfit. Been there, done that – don’t recommend.

The school Christmas party often requires a small gift for your child to bring for another student, some candy contribution, and perhaps paper products. Budget a small amount within your school-year savings fund to cover these expenses. (I normally stick with about $10, but do what works for you.) Also – don’t forget to purchase a card or small gift for your child’s teacher.

If Christmas break requires additional childcare, now’s a good time to consider that as well.


That brings us into January and without a doubt, going back to school after Christmas break is often accompanied by the need for replacement snow gear. Perhaps your kids are more responsible than mine, or maybe we actually have a black hole for mittens, hats, scarves, and even a boot occasionally. (Seriously, how does a kid lose only one boot? It still baffles me.) Needless to say, with no other major holidays, parties, or events in January, budget a little just in case this happens to your child. No one wants to spend the rest of the winter with no gloves.


February is all about Valentine’s Day. Of all the parties that take place throughout the school year, the Valentine’s Day party has the potential to be the most expensive. Not only should you budget for an entire class worth of cards and candy for the party, but you should also plan ahead – the closer you get to Valentine’s Day, the more expensive it all gets, and the less likely you are to find the perfect cards that your daughter has been begging for.

Also, a little off topic but, keep in mind the added expense related to Valentine’s Day for your spouse, too! Okay?


As we get into March, typically the weather is slowly getting warmer and your kids are bound to be headed for Spring sports. After a long winter of destroying tennis shoes by wearing them in the snow (remember that lost boot?), it’s probably time to purchase a new pair, as well as any other clothing/gear necessary for the sport they have chosen. Additionally, it’s easy to forget that sports are often associated with fees, so budget accordingly because if it costs $100 for your daughter to be in the running club this spring, you shouldn’t be panicking on the due date trying to figure out where that money will come from.

Plan ahead, it will save your butt, I promise.


For us, the month of April brings the need for warm weather clothing. Perhaps you live in an area that is still dealing with winter weather and, in that case, you might want to move this expense into May. For those of us living in areas that might be in the 70’s by this time of year, finding some low-cost clothing for your child to wear to school might be in order. Not to mention, by now they’ve likely outgrown or worn out most of their clothing from the fall. Don’t be caught off guard – plan ahead and this won’t be something you (and your budget) struggle with.


The month of May comes with end of the year activities in full swing. Depending on where you live, your school year may end this month or you might continue on well into June, but either way, there are a lot of things to consider:

  • Spring concert clothing
  • End of school parties
  • Proms or other high school activities
  • Field trips
  • Graduations

…among many other things.

So, make sure that you’ve fully accounted for anything and everything that might come up during this time period with your school-year savings fund.

June and July

Even when the school year ends, there are still things to think about. In fact, the months of June, July, and early August can wreak major havoc on your budget without some careful planning. We normally consider the big ones: vacations, time off from work, and extra activities for the kids. Perhaps we’ve even budgeted for the increase in childcare (if you or your spouse isn’t home all summer).

What we frequently forget is the food increase that takes place in the summer. Your kids are no longer sitting at a desk all day, but rather expending energy, and need to be fed in larger quantities and more frequently. And, if your income is small enough that you are on reduced or free lunch at school, then you are adding the entire cost of breakfast and/or lunch to your summer budget. Planning ahead is so important because the last thing you want to do is get to the middle of the month and realize that your grocery budget has been used entirely.

Will Your School-Year Savings Fund Save Your Budget?

With that, we roll back around to August – in what seems to be the never-ending saga of school-aged kids.

I know you want those elementary, middle, and high school experiences for your children to be memorable and fun, and they should be that for you as well. Rather than seeing the constant expense that comes with sending kids to school and letting them participate in activities, let’s focus on budgeting appropriately for the items throughout the entire year, so that participating in the school play, running for the track team, and playing in the Christmas concert, aren’t budget killers, but joy-filled experiences.

Create a fund specifically for these expenses and use it when it’s necessary. That alone will save your budget over and over again.

Now I do have to remind you to allow yourself some grace, it won’t always be perfect, and there might not always be enough money to cover everything your child wants to do, but with this tool, you can say “yes” a lot more than you say “no”.

And if you need help keeping track of all of it, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of the Financial Fix Up Planner. It’ll help you create a monthly budget that works for your specific family situation, track any and all savings funds you have, manage your debt payoff goals, and more. You can grab yours today at

Whatever you decide, just know that I’m cheering you on! You’ve got this! Have an amazing day and I’ll chat with you again next time!