Should kids who can’t afford school activities sit out? : The Saturday Weekend Review #124



Just when you thought you had your finances sorted you realize that you forgot to budget for school activities that you are asked to pay for during the school year.

When you send your child to school you have to save to pay for clothes, electronics in some cases as well as supplies.

The education system costs money and if there are extra trips for the students most or all of that money might just come from your pockets.

The reality is that not every parent can afford to add this category into their budget for one reason or another. Offering the parents who have a low-income the opportunity to pay as much as they can afford is a great way to keep all kids happy included in school activities.

The problem is that schools don’t know who is and who isn’t from a low-income family or a family who simply earns a good income but is plagued with tonnes of debt.

Budgeting on a low-income can be challenging and when it comes to “extras” it either has to be set aside or saved over time.


Unable to participate in school activities


I was reading a story last week on Yahoo which was originally in the New York Post about a public school in New York that held a carnival at the school for the students.

The carnival had bouncy castles, slides and other fun activities for the kids whose parents had the cash to allow them to participate. The school’s parents association who organized the event requested the students pay $10 to take part in the school fun.

It sounds like a great plan but what happened when the kids whose parents couldn’t afford to pay for the school activities is what shocked me the most.

Out of all the classes 5 of them had 1 student each who didn’t pay the money so they were forced to miss out on the fun.

“Are we being punished?” one child asked an aide in the auditorium as kids sat there with no movie playing, a staffer said.

Another student thought that her mom didn’t care about her because she wasn’t able to participate. A bitter emotion came over me when I thought about those children who couldn’t take part with their peers.

The poor kids were sent to the auditorium to sit around and watch an old Disney movie while they could hear music and laughter outside.

The shocking part was that the carnival cost the school $6200USD with a profit between $2000-$3000USD. Where on earth are the profits? Why couldn’t the parents association helped those few students out without everyone knowing about it?

There were no indoor games for kids planned for the children who were left out. I could only imagine the humiliation they must have felt. There is nothing worse than being singled out in front of your classmates apart from being bullied by them.

We know that bullying is a HUGE issue in the schools so why open up the opportunity for children to be treated differently. Some may say that won’t happen but trust me it happens.

Although I don’t feel that it is up to the teachers to pay the way for school activities for students whose parents can’t afford them I believe the school could have handled this differently.

When I was young there were odd occasions we were asked to bring money to pay for school activities but my mum said most people in the village were affluent so it wasn’t an issue of parents not being able to afford.

As I got older if there were students who couldn’t pay for school activities the parent group would use saved funds to help pay the way for those students so they could participate.

My wife said that the only school activities she can remember were called “Play Day” where the classes would participate in outdoor activities on the school grounds. This was fun but it never cost the students out-of-pocket.

The games were created by the teachers and older students who ran each station. There were about 20 game stations around the soccer field. The school provided juice drinks and Popsicles for the students.

At the end of the game day the students met in the gymnasium and were presented with coloured badges with first, second or third on them.

No money was ever asked from the parents for the students to participate in the yearly event. When she went on school trips all the money was raised before they went so the parents did not have to pay out-of-pocket.

These days it seems parents are always having to dish out money for one reason or another so it’s important to budget money every year otherwise your child risks not being able to participate.

How much should you budget for school activities?

Good question because it’s hard to know how much you need unless you know all of the school activities your child will participate in and the cost. You could always estimate cost which I would suggest.

Not all schools are as insensitive as the situation above but I hope that schools in Canada take note of how important it is to have all children participate in activities whether they are indoor activities or outdoor.


Raising money for school activities


There are plenty of ways to raise money for school activities some of which I have already been a part of. If the teachers can plan events well in advance it makes fundraising that much easier and attainable.

  • Bake Sale–  Have parents and teachers bring in a baked good and hold a bake sale once every month or two months to help raise money for school activities.
  • Yard Sale– Ask the parents to look around their house and donate goods for a yard sale with proceeds going to the school fund.
  • Bring and Buy Sale- Bring something from home that you no longer need and donate it so it can be sold. The kicker here is that you must buy something before you leave. This is a great idea because parents will donate and purchase something which helps build that extra money for the fund.
  • Plant Sale– If parents have an abundance of plants in their gardens they could sell them at a plant sale function at the school. All the plants will be donated and any money raised will go to school activities.
  • Sponsored Events- Ask for sponsors from local business owners. If they pitch in a few hundred dollars as a donation you can offer to post a banner to advertise for the duration of the event. With parents attending and picking up the kids it’s easy advertising to the masses.
  • School Choir– If the school has a choir maybe the choir teacher could call the mall and get clearance for the kids to sing and hope that shoppers leave them a donation. The money raised can go towards the students.

There should always be a way to raise money for school activities and if not the school should find something else for the students to participate in where the cost is covered, partially covered or paid with a school fund.

How would you feel if you couldn’t afford to pay for your child to participate in school activities so they are left aside with nothing to do?


CBB Week At A Glance


This week has been super busy for me since my parents arrived. We did some road trips around Ontario including some attractions downtown Toronto.

The hardest part of the road trips was making sure our son was packed up and ready to go. It seems like every time we leave the house we are moving out with bags and bags of stuff for him.

The good news is that all that extra packing typically comes in handy at some point throughout the trip. The time he lost his soother yet we packed 2 extras just in case or the time he lost his sunhat as it fell out his buggy but we had a spare in my wife’s purse.

We learned lots about our planned and unplanned road trips which I will blog about I’m sure. Other than that we’ve had a great time with my parents who are only here for another week so I’ll be making the most of the time I have with them.

On the blog it was surprisingly steady with traffic even though I wasn’t blogging. That’s a great sign for CBB which means it can sustain it’s viewing numbers with the current amount of content on the blog.

Well, I hope you had a wonderful week and that your upcoming week is even better.



Published This Week


Just in case you’ve missed any of my blog posts this week I will share them all below.

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Right now CBB is posting Tuesday (Grocery Game Challenge) , Thursday (Personal Finance Post), Saturday (Personal Finance and Weekly Wrap-Up and a recipe on Sunday!

You may have noticed I didn’t post as much this week. As you know my parents are here so I decided to take a few days off from blogging.

Stay tuned for more awesome blog posts!


Budget Brags


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Saturday Deals June Colleen

This week CBB fan Colleen send her steal of a deal…

Well done Colleen keep up the frugal shopping and saving money!


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This is my way of giving back to the personal finance community through networking and sharing knowledge with my fans.

Today I’d like to welcome Brian from “Save Money Dammit”

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Hello Mr. CBB and Readers!

My name is Brian, and my wife Ashlee and I are the authors of Save Money, Dammit!, a blog and podcast dedicated to helping you crush your debt, save more money, and invest with confidence.

When Ashlee and I got married, I saddled her with $17,000 in student loan debt. She was fortunate (and wise) enough to avoid debt altogether through her college years.

Through her inspiration and encouragement, we began working towards debt freedom, which we achieved in 10 months. After becoming debt free, we set out on a mission to build our wealth through a frugal lifestyle and wise investing.

As our financial knowledge and net worth grew, we were intrigued to find that many people in our generation rejected the idea of frugal living.

Decisions such as sharing one vehicle and striving towards early retirement were met with confusion, and more often, frustration.

As questions from friends and family mounted, we created Save Money, Dammit! to share the many ways to practice one of our favorite pieces of financial advice – save your money, dammit!

We invite you to join us on our financial journey and learn the many benefits of debt freedom and frugal living.


Top Recipe


damn good chocolate cake(1)(1)Food  and grocery shopping is a BIG part of CBB because food is a large part of the budget which people struggle the most with.

If you are someone who would rather buy convenience meals or products consider cooking homemade meals or baking from scratch.

Not only will you save money but you will be proud of what you accomplished and you’ll see that from the smiles on those you feed.

If you don’t already know I have a second Facebook page called The Free Recipe Depot where I share recipes from other Food Bloggers from around the world.

I created this second Facebook page because I love food so much and I wanted to showcase only food 24/7 and this is where I do it.

I also share recipes on CBB once a week on Sundays either made by me or my in-house home blog cook Nicola Don!

This week our Top Recipe Pick goes to Haley over at The Domestic Rebel for her “Damn Good Chocolate Bundt Cake


Editor’s Pick


Every week I will pick a blog post of the week from around the web that I found interesting and want to share with you and an Editor’s top blog post pick.

Editor’s blog post pick this week goes to Canadian Personal Finance Blogger Jessica at Mo Money Mo Houses who lives in Toronto, Ontario. She just recently launched her first Podcast which you should check out and she’s giving away $100 Amazon Gift Card… Enter today and check out the podcast! Congrats Jessica!- Mr.CBB


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  1. Its sad to hear that your child was locked in auditorium because he/she cant participate in the school event. Anyway i thinks as a parent if you’r in a situation that you cant afford for your child school activities, you should talk with administration team and get a calendar year that involves school activities, once you get you can be able to budget for that. Let us not traumatize our children with minor issues.

  2. I read this post on Yahoo and I was like in opposition to this school activity. Such activities should be shouldered by the school. Based on experience, there are parents who kinda don’t care or listen to children when it comes to paying such activities. Sitting out a child because she/he couldn’t pay can bring a psychological impact, which we don’t want to happen to them.

  3. When our kids were in school there were various fund raisers every year as well as class trips. Most of the trips were only a few bucks and, especially with the younger boy, I tended to go along as a parent volunteer. I loved it as I had a chance to get to know a lot of the kids in class as well as the teachers and I tended to get in free as I was helping out. Mind you I do know their school had a fund to help kids out with the trips if the family had financial issues to deal with. I also helped out with the twice a year book fairs and a number of the fund raisers through the year like pizza sales, meet the teacher bbq, education week affairs and so on. Once the older boy started school we learned fast that these come up and we needed to be sure we planned for them. In my experience with the schools I found if I was helping out with things that was appreciated as much as if I bought something or paid for it. A lot of those fund raisers are a load of work for staff and parents!! If you have problems paying for something at the school, I would try talking to the school and see what can be done to help with paying.
    I remember feeling like a pack mule some days when the kids were small, especially on the trips to visit family for a day or three.
    Glad to hear you and your family are having such a lovely visit!!
    Colleen got a sweet deal there!!!
    Enjoy your weekend with your parents still here!!!

  4. I actually was a little nauseous reading this. I had the same reaction when I read kids with no lunch money got a cheese snadwich-when more than likley there was food thrown out at the end of the lunch shift. A school activity should be just that- a school activity.It should be budgeted to include the cost of a certian percent fo kids that do not have the money, but never to force a child to miss out. It is easy enough to do-figure it as a cost of the party, project, etc. and put a little extra on the other ticket price. So eachof the other kids pad $11 vs. $10, or decide your profit margin will be slightly less-who cares in the overall scheme of things. Even the ultra fiscally conservative right wingers that think every person that struggles with the cost of raising kids “should have thought about that before”, can see the lousiness of making a kid sit out. We can’t always add a little extra, but when we can, we try and send a bit more to the cost of things for our daughter, to help the kitty to cover the expenses for those that would like to, but just can’t particpate fianncailly. Your other fund raiser ideas are good ones too. $10 is a couple meals for a family-hard to ask a family with their last $10 to pay for a carnival, but I bet some do, and then figure out how to stretch what is already lean in theri homes.

  5. The problem is the schools are asking for money ALL.THE.TIME. When we buy school supplies we don’t just buy for our child. All of the supplies have to be plain (remember picking out you fave Trapper Keeper or Folders with your fave band on them…not allowed anymore) because we buy for the whole class. I have to provide a case of paper between each child. I have to pay for a sticker on my car that allows me to pick up my kids in the car lane the 2 or 3 times a year I do that. I have to give $15/year for both clinic supplies and technology supplies (not to mention they forced us to buy iPads) there is always a fundraiser happening, including one week a year where they ask us to simply write out checks (and ask our friends and family to do that too). Then I step out on the playground and see that it has no grass, (I have been made to pick my child up because her shoes got muddy on the playground) there are no shaded areas (we live in Georgia!) except for benches that are for the teachers only. I put aside $50/month for school related things even in the summer and I still can’t keep up with it all (nit to mention we don’t get a lot of notice of the need, usually like 3-4 days. I budget monthly so I end up scrambling. I can’t imagine what is like for people with more kids or that truly can’t afford it.

  6. When my daughter was in school, it seemed that every time I turned around the school was asking for money for one thing for another. There was times where the school did a fund raising event to assist with the cost. Through one fund raising event, my daughter (via me) raised the most money that year and a portion was allocated directly to her trip. I took a portion of the money that would be coming back to us and gave it to one of her classmates/friends to help the parents out.

    You’re right, you don’t know what kinds of events that you need to budget for while your kid is in that particular grade. I somehow found the money so that my daughter could participate, even going into further debt so that she could go. I felt bad if she couldn’t go because of my finances because she many other things in her that made her different from the other kids.

    Depending on the grade, I would look at setting aside a couple 100 for school trips, etc. You could always talk to the teacher to get an idea of what’s planned for the year as that would have already been blessed by the school board.

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