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Back to School

From supplies to clothes to backpacks, the costs add up. 

This past Sunday, Stephanie took the kids and went out back-to-school shopping. She noted that, for the first time, we’ve got one in middle school, one in elementary school and one in pre-school. 

She also noted that the price of school supplies seems to be one of the most inflationary items in the entire US economy. Instead of thinking about Apple, GE or Facebook, maybe we need to invest in Bic, Mead and Crayola! And also perhaps in earbuds, as apparently in middle school, kids are required to to bring working earbuds in case they need to make a YouTube video (yes, Gates tried to get this past us!). In addition, all backpacks in the Smyth household are now apparently required to to be Pokemon in nature. For Michael, we’re going through the process of buying him a (not so) little Catholic school uniform. 

Tuesday night, Stephanie took Gates to the Hayes Craze at Edith Hayes Middle School. This is where parents get to write checks for all the student activities, and purchase t-shirts supporting the school mascot (go Cougars!). This is also where moms and dads get to sit on the parent benches watching the newbie sixth-graders interact with the cook-kid eighth-graders, a scene that in my mind is no different from a penitentiary yard and deciding what gang you want to belong to. Except here, there are bouncy houses and Kona Shaved Ice stands in the background as the kids try to figure out their place in life and how to fit into a clique. Going from the top of the hill in elementary school back to the bottom again will be an adjustment for Gates. 

Then, we received a letter this week from Fayette County Public Schools informing us who Ridley’s teacher will be this year. I’m not going to name names, but I sure hope she’s strict and not easily manipulated. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long year for her with a Smyth in her class!

All in all, I can’t believe the kids are almost back in school and another summer has flown by so fast. Whether it’s the reminders about school supplies, about buying back-to-school clothes, or the restarting of tuition payments, having children in a household is a costly endeavor. And whether you’re thinking about these costs or the fact that I’ve got three kids to put through college, you’re probably thinking “Goodness Dave, how do you sleep at night?” 

I won’t lie and tell you that I didn’t run some new projections about college costs over the weekend, and I’m still in shock by the numbers. But the reality in our society for future employment is that college is not an optional addition to your education. At this point, instead of K-12, we’re basically looking at K-16. As I plan for those costs (and trust me, I will require my children to contribute), I also dream about what kind of men these little boys will become. What will their occupation be? Where will they live? What will life be like for them? 

The end of the long days of summer is not a bad thing. It’s simply another season of time where we come out of a brief respite from our everyday activities and get thrust back into regular life (and dealing with all the carpools and school buses during the morning commute!). It’s the start of a new academic year and the official start of the second half of the year, so you can get yourself back on track if needed. 

And for you dads out there like me who do worry about putting all of your children through school, soon our man-caves will be filled with the glow of Monday Night Football, and for us, that acts as a natural salve to today’s worries and concerns. 

Stay tuned for next week when we start talking about college planning and saving, and I’ll share with you my plan for my boys. In the meantime, if you have any questions about back-to-school budgeting or college savings, give us a call. We’d love to help. 

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