Guess what parents? Your little boy or girl is graduating their senior year of high school. Soon, they will be entering the adult world or the world of upper education. This year is the stepping-stone into the next level of their lives. Do you know what that means for you? Money, it means a lot of money if you are not fully aware of your expenditures and graduation budget. Luckily, there are ways to cut corners while still making graduation 2011 enjoyable and memorable for both you and your kid.
I know the stress of graduating and of managing finances. My family suffers financially as well, to the point where I myself worry about cutting back on prices for graduation. Here is what we as a family are doing to cut back on prices, and how we failed in certain areas to keep a clear head.
The first part of senior year comes before the year even starts. Senior pictures are taken generally in the summer before the year starts. I had to wake up at seven in the middle of July in order to go to an appointment for senior pictures that the school made for me. The packages started at $22 for a simple school picture and went up to around $200 for a huge collection of images including different sets and changes of outfits. We opted out of purchasing the pictures, despite how many slips they sent us in the mail. The majority of my school pictures were much better. With the funny scheduling for the pictures and with a total lack of enthusiasm from the photographer, they ended up pretty terrible. Instead, my dad took my senior pictures when I was looking my best and when he could do a little touching up on the computer. If you have a friend or a relative that is really into photography, then they will probably be willing to take pictures for dirt cheap or for nothing at all.
The school also used other tactics to try to get us to spend more money. By sending us a mandatory payment that was easily made, they managed to trick us into a little bit more than we bargained for. What tactic is this? This is called the cap and gown measurement tactic. Generally, the school chooses one company to provide all of the graduation services and that company tries to get as much money out of you as possible. Cap and gowns are mandatory, but generally cheap at around $20. However, with the measurement slip there brings a giant order form for everything from invitation packages to sweatpants. Instead of costing us $20, we ended up spending $78 on various invitations. What we could have done instead was get a bunch of pictures and a bunch of blank cards for dirt-cheap and made up invitations ourselves. Even the priciest blank graduation cards would have cost less than the invitations that we purchased from the company.
As for the graduation party, do not go overkill. Unless your kid is moving out directly after the party, they will not be providing for themselves and do not need insane amounts of money as a graduation present. Instead of having a fancy banquet, my family is celebrating with a barbecue. If your kid wants live entertainment, tell them to hit up a local teen band and get them for free. It does not have to cost more than food and drinks to have a graduation party.