Sherwood Youth Association’s Annual Halloween Party

The Sherwood Youth Association hosted its annual Halloween party on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Sherwood Park. Kids were treated to pizza and treats as well as entertainment provided by Jojo the Clown. Each child went home with a special goodie bag made by the volunteers, and those who dressed up were also part of a costume contest!

Joe Cardillo, Christopher Fortese and Jake Monelli had this year’s “scariest costumes.” Nicolina Schlesser, Janelle Airwyke and Karina Kent had the “most original costumes.”The winners for “funniest costume” were Beau Borchardt, Ethan Walters and Brett Monelli. Adam Badyrka took the title for “overall best costume.”

Building a Back-to-School Budget

By Nathaniel Sillin

Back_to_school

Back-to-school spending isn’t just about clothes and markers anymore.

In 2014 Forbes reported that Accenture estimated that nearly half of respondents reported they would spend $500 or more on back-to-school expenses, including not only clothes and desk supplies but electronics as well.

Yet there’s one more aspect of back-to-school spending that’s growing and can add hundreds—and sometimes thousands—to a family’s overall K-12 education budget. Since the 2008 economic crisis, many public school systems have tried to make up for funding shortfalls by adding first-time or expanded fees for sports, extracurricular activities and specialized academics.

This means that back-to-school budgeting, even for families with kids in public school, now requires a more holistic, year-round approach to all back-to-school expenses.

Given their potential dollar amounts, parents should examine school fees first. Public education has never been completely free of charge beyond local taxes. (Parents have traditionally paid extra money to support their kids’ participation in sports, music or other extracurricular activities.) However, many school systems are adding fees for a broader range of offerings including after-school activities, top-level courses, lab-based instruction and even Advanced Placement or AP classes. So before you start spending money on clothes and supplies that can be bought off-season, on sale or possibly used, get a handle on how applicable instruction and activity fees might affect your budget. Parents in financial need may qualify for public aid or grants to cover such fees; if not, choices will need to be made.

Consider turning back-to-school shopping into a money lesson. Most kids like to have certain kinds of clothes, shoes or supplies. Those “wants” can be turned into a discussion about spending priorities, value, choice and comparison shopping. Using the back-to-school budget calculator with your kids can help them learn how create a budget before shopping so that you only come home with the essentials. As kids get older, the discussion can expand to cover bigger-ticket purchases like smartphones, computers and fees for special courses and activities they want to pursue. Some of these issues might evolve into a discussion about earning money through chores or a part-time job.

Once priorities are decided, every expense should be tracked, including a child’s round trip school transportation, meals, tutoring fees or immunization and health care expenses not covered by insurance. And once that budget is set, it means a constant search for smart ways to save. Some ideas may include:

  • Carpooling – Track your costs to make sure you’re not adding significantly to your overall transportation budget.
  • Packing lunches at home
  • Working with school administrators to raise outside donations or grant funding to cover parents’ out-of-pocket costs
  • Organizing school supplies in one place to avoid purchasing duplicates
  • Renting equipment, supplies or instruments used until a child’s interests are established
  • Scouting garage sales, thrift shops and online marketplaces for used, required-edition textbooks, instruments, electronics, sports equipment, clothes and other supplies you’d otherwise buy new; online resources shouldn’t charge shipping or return fees
  • Reviewing school and classroom supply lists before buying essentials
  • Bulk and group-buying supplies and services with other parents to get volume prices
  • Consolidating back-to-school shopping during tax-free days (if your state offers them)
  • Swapping used supplies and equipment with other parents
  • Checking retail memberships for any back-to-school savings they offer
  • Watching for print and online coupons or special discount offers through your school
  • Listening to your kids – They might spot money-saving ideas faster than you can

One final secret budget item—rewards. Saving money on back-to-school expenses can help parents meet a number of financial goals, but kids’ academic or activity success deserves recognition. Consider setting aside a little of those savings for a reward they can enjoy.

Bottom line: When setting your back-to-school budget this year, think beyond the supplies. Consider every possible fee and expense associated with your child’s school year and plan accordingly.

Nathaniel Sillin directs Visa’s financial education programs. Follow Practical Money Skills on Twitter at @PracticalMoney.

Green Ridge Youngsters Team up with Fidelity to Help Fire Victims

By Steve Svetovich

These youngsters sponsored a lemonade stand in conjunction with the efforts of Fidelity Bank to help victims of a fire in Green Ridge. The kids raised $177.64 for the cause. Shown from left are: Maggie Young, Gabe DeScipio, Olivia DeScipio and Corgan Carr.

These youngsters sponsored a lemonade stand in conjunction with the efforts of Fidelity Bank to help victims of a fire in Green Ridge. The kids raised $177.64 for the cause. Shown from left are: Maggie Young, Gabe DeScipio, Olivia DeScipio and Corgan Carr.

A group of young children offered to serve free lemonade at the Green Ridge Branch of Fidelity Bank Saturday, June 27, to raise money for the victims of a fire May 16 at East Market Street, Scranton. There were seven families affected by the fire.

The children served free lemonade from from 9:30 to 11:30 a,m. and asked visitors to consider donations of money or gently used household and cleaning supplies to help victims of the May 16 fire at East Market Street by Green Ridge corners. Seven families were displaced and lost almost all their possessions. Only one of the families had renter’s insurance.

Fidelity Bank branch manager Jill Valenti worked with local business woman, Therese Brunetti, from Brunetti’s Pizza, to make the Green Ridge branch of Fidelity Bank a collection site for the seven affected families. Patty DeScipio, marketing communications officer for Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank, was there with Valenti and Brunetti during the fund raising event.

“Jill Valenti, our branch manager, came up with the idea along with our neighbors from Brunetti’s Pizza,” said DeScipio. “Brunetti’s Pizza took up a collection and posted it on their Facebook page. They have kept people informed to drop of collections and household items at the drop off at the Fidelity Bank Green Ridge branch.

“The lemonade stand is part of an initiative program with kids at the Fidelity Bank. I handle the donations. It is being done as part of the summer initiative program for children. It is a fun way for the children to sell lemonade and help the families who were victims of this terrible fire. The fire also affected some local businesses. These families don’t even know where to start from. Everything they owned is gone. The lemonade fund raising event was a win win situation. It was a great way for the children to learn a lesson about helping others while having fun at the same time.”

“This fire affected so many families, so many people and had an impact on several Green Ridge businesses. The children did a wonderful job helping out the victims with the lemonade stands.”

If anyone else wants to help, there is a drop off box at the Green Ridge branch of Fidelity Bank.