Summertime Economics

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In The Red: Burned By Summertime Economics

I have always looked forward to summer break. The kids are home all day, the pace is more relaxed, and I do not have to spend every single day glued to my minivan seat. Granted, there is an adjustment for all of us. I have to give up the daily ME time I have come to covet during the school day hours. And they have to become reacclimated to living with "the Warden" 24/7. So far we are all coexisting fairly peacefully (read: we are all still alive). However, should you be watching CNN and see a report of my suspicious disappearance, please direct the authorities to my 9 year old.

That said, another reason I have always looked forward to the break is the breathing room it gives our bank account. Or at least, I thought it gave the bank account a chance to come out of its field trip/fundraiser/PTA induced coma. Funny how some revelations are slow in coming - but after six years of summer breaks, I have finally realized that the funds I thought we were saving are actually being creatively reallocated. Take a look, you are likely to see your own balance sheet in a new light:

Field Trip $$: I have three school age children. During the school year there is a constant procession of Field Trip consent forms and dollars required in order to attend said trip. What my mother referred to as nickel and diming when I was in school is now fiving and tenning, as in $5 and $10. As we recently lined up to see Finding Nemo, it dawned on me that this brand of summertime field trip consumes enough money in one fell swoop to fund three months of field trip forms during the school year!

Juice Boxes: I hate these things, but I also recognize they are a convenient evil when it comes to packing lunches everyday. However during the summer, I make my daughters become reacquainted with the faucet and the clear liquid it spews. Dollars saved, right? Wrong. What I save in juice boxes is reallocated to the water bill and ahem . . . toilet paper.

Fundraisers: Wrapping paper, cookie dough, flower bulbs, Coupon Books, you name it. The backpack mail is constantly filled with one fundraiser after another - only I get them in multiples of three! Believe me, if wars could be fought with Cheese flavored popcorn and tubes of holiday gift wrap, my attic would be a threat to the Saddams and Osamas of this world. Seems that without the fundraisers in the summer I would be saving money right? Think again and reallocate that money to cover one car trip to $ea World. Shamu does not jump for free.

Pencils & Paper: Three children go through a forest of paper and writing utensils during the school year. While they use some in the summer, for the most part they spend all their days swimming. (We live in Dallas, which in summer is the equivalent of living in the suburbs of Hell . . . HOT!) I use a pencil and paper everytime I write a check for another gallon of sunscreen.

School Clothes: Reference "Dallas" in the last paragraph. During the summer, no money is spent on clothes, as they barely wear any. Life is spent in a bathing suit. However, what I save on the coolest and oh-so-hot fashions is more than eaten up by what I spend on cooling our oh-so-hot hacienda.

Iím sure there are many more reallocations I have not yet identified, but I trust you get the picture.

Youíll have to excuse me now. The kids are heading back out to the pool and need another coat of suntan lotion. Hmmmm, I think Iíll slather some of it on my checkbook - it is looking decidedly red...Cheese popcorn for dinner, anyone?

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