I have four kids, two of which are in high school right now.
Our oldest will be a senior next year and our daughter will be a sophomore next year.
Our oldest has dragged us kicking and screaming into each new, unfamiliar territory as he has grown up.
You may have a child entering high school and wonder what things it makes sense to pay for and what things it would be more practical to skip.
Everyone is different and every group of kids, high school and area of the country can be different. Therefore, it is wise to take this as one woman’s take on high school expenses. My overall advice is to sit down with your kid and think through each purchase and do what works best for you.
So far, this is how we have approached some of the common high school expenses:
Yearbooks – Wow. These suckers are getting expensive! And (of course) you can bling it up with icons, names, the year, etc. engraved into the book. I honestly think what your friends write in the book is more important in the long run than the actual book, but it would be weird to wander around with a blank notebook while everyone else has a yearbook, so we agree to buy the basic book (no extra culture pack, no extra spring pack, no icons, names, etc.) and if the rest is important to our kids, then they can pony up that money. No one has given us money for anything in this area, so it must not be that important to them. I did agree to do 1 icon on the book for each child’s senior year.
Class Ring – Blessedly, these seem to have not risen much in price since I went to high school – *ahem* some years ago. I never wore mine after high school, but I loved it during high school, so I spoke with each child to find out his or her thoughts. Some really want it and some could care less. Either way, if you agree to buy one, I recommend picking a limit and having your child pay for any upgrades they feel passionate about adding. Luckily, the girls rings are lovely now, and barely look like class rings, so I could see it being worn far beyond high school.
Sports Pictures – I think these are nice to commemorate the participation in sports and activities. I mean, usually once you are out of high school, you aren’t in sports on a regular basis, so it is nice to have these while you can. That being said, I don’t see much reason for more than 1 team picture and 1 individual picture. But that could just be me – some people like the magnets or buttons, too.
Prom – This year was our first prom experience and yowza – it gets spendy quickly. Unfortunately, we made the grave mistake of sending our son to shop for his tux rental with his friends and our debit card. I honestly think that we could have bought a gently used tux for about the same price. Live and learn. Our plan is to buy one next year, or do what one of his friends did and just borrow a coat and put it with a shirt and dress pants. I mean, really, it looked just fine. We had our son pay for the tickets and we helped with dinner, but again, I could see that going a lot of different ways depending on your situation. Our son was just coming out of his diving season, and had not worked much, so money was tight for him and we decided to help out a bit. We did nix the limo rental and fancy place for pictures. We hosted about 30 kids and their parents at our house for pictures, instead.
Sports Wear/ Letter Jackets – You know the sweats and t-shirts that the kids wear that say their high school and their sport and have their name on the back? Yes, we do pay for those. Why? Well, we feel like being a part of a team is a fantastic high school experience and while that has a lot more to it than just the clothing, wearing the clothing is still part of it. We try to keep it reasonable by setting a limit and having our kids chip in if they want something more. We have done some orders as all or part of a birthday or Christmas gift, too. This goes for the letter jackets, too. We have one so far, and a grandparent gave it as a birthday gift, which worked out well for us.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, everyone is different and everyone’s budget will be different. I do realize that what works for our family may not work for another. I welcome comments as to how people might do things differently.