Parents should budget for back to school

— As students prepare for their first day of school Aug. 25, parents prepare for the freeing experience of kids booked from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They should also prepare for the outlay of money the beginning of a school year brings, officials with Consumer Credit Counseling Service said.

Back to school necessities can add up quickly, from the $15 to $30 cost of a backpack to the $20 to $40 cost for gym shoes, the price of attending school is often a cost that catches parents off guard and with an empty pocketbook.

"When the kids return to school after summer vacation, parents may not realize how much money is required to get ready for the new academic year," said Judith Stevens with Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS).

CCCS offers five tips for parents facing the beginning of a new school year.

Estimate expenses

Sit down with each child and list every expense you both think will be needed. Include school supplies, clothing, school and athletic shoes, club fees and instrument rentals. Remember haircuts, immunizations and physicals, Stevens said.

The cost of school supplies has a wide spread in the Moffat County School District. Parents can spend as little as $12.80, not including shoes and a backpack, for a kindergarten student in Ridgeview Elementary School and as much as $25 for a Craig Intermediate School or fourth-grade student. New clothing is a costly, but necessary investment. Parents should expect to pay $20 for pants and $8 to $15 for a shirt at a discount store. The total price could be more than $100 per child for just three back-to-school outfits.

The Moffat County School District recently adopted a policy to charge athletes fees for participating in a sports program. The fee is $20 per high school student, per activity and will not exceed $100 per family. The fee is $10 for Craig Middle School athletes.

Book fees are another cost parents often forget to figure. At Moffat County High School, fees are $15 per student. They are $11 at the Craig Intermediate and Middle schools and $8 at elementary schools. These fees are mandatory.

Feeding students adds another expense. School lunch for Moffat County High School and Craig Middle School students can run $310 a year. For Craig Intermediate School students and elementary school students the cost is $266 a year.

Set up a budget

Add up your total, Stevens said, and then set spending limits for each child.

"Figure out what you can pay cash for and what you will need to charge to your credit cards," she said. "If you charge items, use the card with the lowest interest rate and set up a plan to pay off those charges within three months."

Determine needs and wants

CCCS officials say that if a child insists on a certain brand of jeans or style of shoes, compromise. Tell your child how much you think is a reasonable amount and what you will pay. CCCS recommends that parents have their child make up the difference as a way to teach they child a financial lesson.

Comparison shop

Prices vary from store to store. Stevens suggested checking office supply stores, volume discount warehouses and large drug and grocery stores for the best values.

"Take your children shopping with you so they can see first-hand the benefit of budgeting and taking advantage of sales and discount stores," Stevens said.

Plan ahead

The best way to be prepared for the next school year is to plan ahead, Stevens said. Take the receipts from this year and use them to plan the next year's budget.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.