Can You Avoid Spending Money on School Fundraisers?

We are about two months into the school year with our five year old. Kindergarten teachers are surely a special group. Two weeks ago,  I was able to attend the homecoming parade and help chaperone the kids. It’s really tough to take twenty four 5-6 year olds out to the parade and keep them from running out in the road while people are throwing candy at them. Teachers certainly don’t get paid enough! For all the wonders of kindergarten, I was not prepared for the onslaught of fundraisers that seem to come home each week. So far, we have had school sweatshirts and water bottles for sale, book fair, and the latest one, Little Caesars pizza kits and cookie dough for sale. Next week we have school pictures, which aren’t to raise money for the school, but I bet they aren’t free. Is there a way you can avoid spending money on school fundraisers?

My honest answer is that I don’t know. I could boycott all things that cost money and be viewed as the villian parent whose child didn’t sell any pizza kits. I really hate that schools have to resort to asking kids to peddle overpriced dough to buy supplies and go on field trips, but that’s a whole other topic for another day. What we’ve decided for now is to treat fundraising as we would any other item up for purchase.

Decide if You Actually Need it--We decided we didn’t need the sweatshirts and waterbottles. Kid sweatshirts for $22? I’m all for school spirit, but our daughter is in a fancy phase and won’t even wear sweatshirts right now. Maybe if they put Disney Princesses on them? I’m sure this will be more of an issue when she is actually attending school sports events, but for now, we’re passing on this.

Children Can Use Their Own Money-We’re going to use the book fair as a lesson in saving and budgeting. Our daughter gets $1/week if she can get dressed and ready for school without a meltdown and keep her room picked up. (We hold that to a very loose standard). She also has some money from holidays saved up. We told her she could buy books, but she has to use her own money. We’ve found that if we use this tactic, she is very careful and never spends everything she has. If it was my money, she’d want the most expensive ones for sure.

Realize You Might Have to Bite the Bullet-This one is going to kill my healthy challenge with Savvy Scot and my grocery challenge with Mr. CBB. We will probably buy a pizza kit and some cookie dough. Yes, it is more expensive than buying at the store. (Can we put that in the charity category?) We have to bring something for holiday parties, so maybe we’ll use the cookie dough for that. I don’t want to ask people at work to buy things. I’m afraid they might buy because I’m the boss, and I hate to guilt people into anything. We might try to hit up our neighbors, but I don’t see us being the top seller on this one.

I’m learning that part of having an elementary school student is preparing for the various unknown expenses that arise. I guess we could avoid spending any money on school fundraisers, but I know the cause is good. I also don’t want my daughter to be the only one who doesn’t participate. She loves school right now, but one kid making fun of her could change that. I can’t fight her battles, but I can buy some lousy pizza dough and give her a sale. I would love to know how seasoned veterans have handled the challenge of staying on budget while contributing in some way to school fundraisers. Ask me in ten years, and maybe I’ll have a better answer.

Can you resist a kid salesman? What is the worst thing you ever bought from a school fundraiser?

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  1. Pingback: Weekly recap 4
  2. Kim,

    We have two boys who have gone through the fundraisers. Now they are both in high school and the fundraising fun continues.

    Our plan is to just pick and choose the activities that we think fit our time and budget.

    In elementary school, my wife and I both spent a lot of time as volunteers on field trips and as teacher assistants. So, we didn’t feel quite the pressure to fund every school request that came along.

  3. Can I get a dollar if I hold it together in the morning, too?

    A friend of mine always laughs about the phrases “public” school and “no” tuition. There are a ton of expenses, aren’t there?

    1. You’d have to ask your family about the dollar. If it gets you out of bed without tears, it might be worth it. I actually could plan for fees. It’s the unexpected things that keep coming up. I guess in a few years, I’ll get the hang of it.

  4. In the beginning we tried to sell everything maybe not 100% but just so that our son didn’t feel left out. But as time went on we realize that by the time we were selling and buying from others who were selling we ended up spending a lot of money. We just would say no to the things we didn’t need. It gets better as they get older. I think elementary school is the worst of all.

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