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Back-to-School: The Hidden Financial Bonus For Parents

My guess (our conversation didn't get this far) is that most of my friends will start saving for next summer with their reduced expenses, or take up again on retirement and college savings that were suspended due to the high cost of summer.

How do you make this work?

I'm curious, because there doesn't really seem to be a one-size-fits-all solution to the nine-month school year. For parents of preschoolers and high schoolers, there is very little to complain about. Most preschools now run through the summer; high schoolers can take advantage of time off to get their own jobs and contribute to family finances. So elementary students and their parents are stuck in a co-dependent, dysfunctional financial system that benefits no one but the companies that run summer camps.

I'd love to hear about families who used barter to pay for summer camps (a thought I've certainly had), or who set up frugal budgets forged in summer for the rest of the year. If I was to advise a two-income couple with elementary school-aged children on what to do, it would be to budget annually based on the costs of living in the summer. Getting by with that ultra-high cost of care would mean lots left over to add to savings the rest of the year.

Is the school year a windfall for the expense side of your family budget? What do you do with this extra cash?

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