Who doesn't want to save money at a very practical level. But how?
Cooking is not my thing. Ask anyone that knows me, really. If I can cater it, or go out to eat, I’m good with it.
One of my friends is the opposite. Ask anyone that knows her, really. If she can create a concoction in the kitchen, 50 dirty pots and all, she is good with it.
I drive her crazy.
BUT, what do we both have in common? More importantly, what might you have in common? We are both frugal. Some would describe us as CHEAP. How about you? I taught my kids long ago that whenever and however you can design a system or habit to save money, you are ahead.
Parents ask us all the time for practical ways to teach the rewards of savings. This is about as practical as it gets. If fact, if you want even more practical teaching ideas, you can find them here: 8 - Step Parent Teaching Guide
You can chalk this whole exercise into the phrase money management, or even into the word “budget”, though again, if you know me, you won’t use the word budget around me! The word budget is negative and seems to limit your money control. However you choose to this, you will find the next minutes reading this article entirely worth it. It’s practical, teachable, and scaleable.
Whether you are the committed cook, or the buy-out “foodie”, you spend $ at the grocery store on some level. It's an opportunity for saving money and creating a lifetime habit of racking up those savings to buy something more significant later.
Step 1: Get your Motivation Game Going First
- Think of something you are saving for. For your young adult, it might be designer jeans or concert tickets. For you it might be a philanthropy to donate to, the family vacation, college funding, or yes, even that designer pair of jeans.
Step 2: Target your Savings Potential
- Identify the top 5 (or more, remember, I promised scaleability) items that you buy all the time. Preferably you buy these things every week. Might it be eggs, milk, cheese, bread, or diet coke? Is it your favorite breakfast food or the ice cream dessert? Or is it bottled water, toothpaste, or orange juice?
- Write down what you buy each item for currently.
Step 3: Name the Top 3-4 Stores You Frequent.
- Go online and see how much each of these top items are currently at EACH of these stores. Record that amount.
Step 4: Think Outside the Box.
- Every week, RE-CHECK those prices at each store. Did they fluctuate?
- Do they have a loyalty program that reduces the prices?
- Does buying in bulk help?
- Google coupons for those 5 items. Don’t get overwhelmed on this one.
Step 5: Buy When the Time is Right.
- You’ve now got a 4+ week pattern on these items.
- Pricing cycles to watch for:
- o Wednesdays and Sundays are when many grocery stores print circulars with sales.
- o Look at expiration dates. If it is a perishable, look to the back of the freezer or shelf at the store and buy the furthest out expiration date.
- o Look at savings by buying in bulk.
- You will probably save several dollars a week. Remind yourself (or your teachable young adult) that anything multiplied by 52 weeks will be a more impressive number.
- Increase your items beyond 5 as you get your first 5 under control.
- What have you taught yourself or your mini-you?
- The power of research
- The power of saving for something – delayed gratification.
- How to watch for spending cycles and trends.
- The power of money management at a level they can completely relate to.
5 frequent purchase items + 4 weeks of trend research = $ savings x 52 weeks
BONUS: The Teachable Young Adult Moment
- You help them start an easy HABIT that can grow
- You help them see how to get a long-term gain with minimal short-term sacrifice.
- You've got an opening to start a great conversation about spending plans.
If you as a parent are paying for the items, but wanting to show your kids how much purchasing power they have by using this formula, then make it a win-win for you both. Split the savings. You agree to keep 50% for your household management, and your child gets 50% for their prized “widget.” This works for any age. In fact, to make this even better for your mini-you, get a jar and glue a picture of the item they are saving for on it. Every week the savings are realized, convert their 50% into cash that you both drop in the jar.
Have a great week, and BON APPETIT
You CAN Have Success in the Middle of it ALL!
Author of 8 - Step Parent Teaching Guide for parents of nearly grown adults.
The Obvious and NOT so Obvious Costs to Join a Sorority
Plus! 8 Easy Savings Ideas
It’s time for Fall Sorority Recruitment! The answer to “Mom, can I go through rush?” may send visions of dollar signs dancing in your head. For most, the costs are worth it. They were for us. But it isn't cheap.
But, what exactly are those costs?
Before reading below, please understand that the program at each school will be different, and that dollar amounts can change. Also, some costs are optional or can be creatively modified. But rarely have we seen these cost categories spelled out. Hopefully this blog will help you better prepare for what’s ahead. Our daughters have joined in to give you our tips since we just finished up the process.
Registration Fees (usually done the summer prior to Fall/Early Spring Rush)
To go thru “recruitment” at your college, you might have more than 1 Panhellenic registration fee:
- from the state/city in which you reside.
- from the college in question.
Costs for college Panhellenic registration: as low as $25 up to $250+ for registering late. Amber says to pay attention to deadlines like you did when you were applying for college – you can actually save money this way! Costs for registering with your hometown Panhellenic can be free or can involve another charge up to $50-$100.
You may refer to them differently depending upon where you live, but these packets are the paperwork you need to gather to introduce yourself to each sorority. Some schools require less than others, so it’s good to check with your college’s Panhellenic. Costs for this could include:
- photography for pictures of the “potential new member” (young woman going thru recruitment). No need to pay for a photographer if you have a buddy, like Caroline, who works for the yearbook and is handy with a camera!
- printing several copies of the pictures for each sorority on campus. Walmart and CVS can print these in an hour, for cheap!
- envelopes and stamps.
- printing the student’s resume.
- folders to put all the stuff in.
Many schools are moving to on-line transmission, so this cost really varies. You can take your own pictures or get a photographer. The cost for this can swing significantly depending upon how many sororities are on your particular campus.
Cost of going to Pre-Recruitment Events in the Spring before the Freshman Year
Many schools help “potential new members” mentally prepare for upcoming recruitment and host events where the girls can visit their future college campus. Amber enjoyed seeing what the sorority houses/rooms looked like, and meeting the sisters. Your costs here might include:
- typical travel costs such as gas, plane, food, and hotel.
- cute clothes. As for mentally allocating the costs to “rushing”, these costs can double as a college visit, giving your daughter a chance to tour the campus, find the bookstore, find her dorm, locate parking garages, and find new friends for the fall.
The Costs of the actual Recruitment (Rush) Week(s) Clothing
Clothing costs could include:
- suggestions as to what you are to wear each day. Many recruitment days are “dress casual” and the items you need might already be in your closet. Toward the end of the week, dressing usually gets less casual and might result in buying something (or borrowing) for this.
- Amber and I decided on a budget for clothes and accessories, and then she actually put the cash amount in her wallet. Amber said it was much harder to spend real money than just swiping a card! We also had fun shopping and putting things on hold, while we decided on her final outfits. She took pictures of each dress, then recorded the costs. She reviewed everything after a couple of days of shopping, and came in 30% under budget when she went back for the purchases
Food and housing costs:
- as most colleges allow the rushes to move in early, but be sure to check whether the cafeterias will be open or your student will need to eat on her own.
Many moms like to travel to the college on Bid Day to cheer on their daughter. This is the day the potential new members find out which young women are pledging which sorority. Costs can include:
- travel, housing and food for Moms/families that come to help celebrate. It is optional as to whether families attend.
- buying a sorority gift packet (greek monogrammed tshirts, sweatshirts, mugs) or flowers as a gift for their daughter. Generally this cost is optional.
- photographs. Many groups have a photographer on hand to take pics of the incoming new member class and sorority as a whole. Yep, you might want a copy, but it is optional.
Dues First Semester of Joining
These dues are typically higher due to one-time costs.
- These could include pledging, member pin/badge, and initiation, and national dues liability insurance
- It might include a meal plan in the sorority house.
Costs: we’ve seen from $400-$2,000+
Dues as a regular member (after initiation)
These dues vary depending on how the campus and sorority handle meal plans, meeting facilities, and dorms vs. sorority house. Absolutely, you will want to read all the materials from the college’s Panhellenic as most will provide a table or chart with estimated costs. Be sure to consider:
- this is typically where you will see food, housing, meeting room dues, so it tends to be pricey.
- many times living in a sorority house is cheaper than a regular dorm/meal plan. (that happened with us)
- when you compare costs as there could be a savings!
- meal plans. If your campus/sorority has a meal plan, it might only cover weekdays and leave Saturday and Sunday completely out.
Cost Summary: as there are so many possibilities here, we strongly urge you to check with your college Panhellenic. Just read the “fine print” to see what the numbers on the chart cover and whether they are quoted by semester or by the year. This section could easily be $thousands per year.
Pesky “Hidden” Costs
Ok, hidden might not be the right word to use, but many forget that these costs DO occur and you will want to consider them. Among them are:
- events such as “formals”, “parties”, and social events. These costs might be clothing, transportation, pictures, and the memory t-shirt. Depending upon the school, these events might be in another city and require hotel/food. If they are an “away” event, it is typically no more than once or twice per year, and completely optional.
- gifts to your “big” and your “little”. There are “families” within sororities. In fact, this is one of the huge reasons women elect to go thru recruitment in the first place. Tradition might hold that you buy your “big” and your “little” gifts for initiation, and various other times of the year.
- the yearly whole sorority picture “composite”. Each girl that is active within a sorority will show up on this photo composite and it will provide years of looking back and remembering what your “sisters” looked like “back then”. (We still laugh when looking at our composites!).
Costs: our survey from current sorority members reflect a range of $100-$500+ per year.
8 EASY Ways to Save Money In a Sorority
- After covering the “required” costs, set an absolute spending limit on the optional incidentals from party photos to t-shirts to gifts BEFORE the year starts. It is much easier to say “no” to that t-shirt when you know you are saving for the big spring dance.
- Some sororities use “Greek Resource Services” or other such services that might allow a monthly payment plan. Ask your group.
- Some groups allow you to pay with cash at a slightly discounted rate because they can avoid the credit card transaction fee. It never hurts to ask. This could result in a decent chunk of savings change.
- Bring a costume box from home. Often there will be fun themed parties, where you dress up in costume. If everyone brings a box of silly clothing items, they can swap with each other as needed. Of course, running to a dollar store or thrift shop works well, too.
- If you have a sorority meal plan at the sorority house, take advantage of it. Going out during the week instead of eating in will add up quickly. Also, many sorority houses will prepare boxed meals if you have a class that conflicts with serving times. Just let them know ahead and they will probably make you one.
- Consider the clothes purchasing method Amber used (see “clothing” in the Recruitment Week Section Above).
- Borrow clothes as needed.
- Other than the big photo composites, having your own camera handy can save you money at events. On Bid Day, have your family prepared with a camera.
Cost Comments in General
While there are many great reasons to pledge a sorority, if the costs seem a bridge too far for you, then you will survive not joining one – we promise. Typically the percentage of kids in sororities are no more than 30% or less of the kids on campus. There are hundreds of other fabulous groups to join at college that are far cheaper. Remember, the dues are collected by one of the girls in the sorority, typically the treasurer. She will be one of your “sisters”, your peer, and you will see her at weekly meetings. Putting her into a “collection” mode will be very uncomfortable.
Does it sound like we are discouraging sorority life? Absolutely not. All of the positive things you have heard such as lifetime friends, a built-in friend group as you hit campus, an opportunity to hold office and serve, are all true. Just knowing the costs and how to prepare for them will make the whole experience much more pleasant. Hopefully this will help you make a better “rush or not rush” decision.
We are off to find our pledge book and laugh at how skinny we used to be! If you have any other costs and/or savings ideas to share, please do in the comments below. We are still in the mode of our girls going thru recruitment and would love to learn from you.
Just in case you need links to the national Panhellenic and individual sororities, click on this link:
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As JellyGeneration Says:
You CAN have Success in the Middle of It All