Wrapping paper and candy sales got you down? As both a mom and teacher, I know all about school fundraisers. I'll tell you a secret: I hate them too.  Whether your children attend public or private school, we all have one thing in common, the dreaded school fundraiser.

Whether your school runs one continual money-making event after another or hosts twice-a-year sales or sponsored races, being a parent to a school-age child is expensive. We all know the money is going to a good cause, but who doesn't drift between feelings of obligation, guilt, irritation, and stress come fundraiser time?

Add in the anxiety of being on a tight budget.  When the overly marked-up catalogs start coming home, the stress level increases. So, how do you go about surviving school fundraisers while on a fixed budget?

Be Honest

Nothing beats telling the truth. Let your kids know that your family is on a tight budget and can't afford to purchase multiple unneeded items right now. Although you don't want to worry your children with financial woes, they need to understand how money and the economy works. Let your children know if you can only afford one small item or if you need to decline participating in a fundraiser.

Budget in Advance

If your children have attended the same district for years, you probably know how the fundraising cycle works. Most schools repeat the same successful fundraisers year after year, which makes it easy to budget for in advance. If you know there is a school bike-a-thon every spring, set aside ten extra dollars that month in advance, before the sponsor sheets even come home.

Get Involved in Planning

Tired of the same, expensive novelty sales each year? Get involved with your school's PTA and help plan the next fundraiser. Rather than complaining and simply surviving each sale, help make the decisions and give input that will make it easier for those parents on a budget.

Multiple Kids?

Surviving school fundraisers is tough when you have multiple kids that all want sales and donations. Depending on their age, talk with your kids and come to a resolution.  Perhaps you will purchase one small item per child, or take turns purchasing from each child, rotating between them for each fundraiser.

Ask Kids to Contribute

Do your kids receive an allowance or have a part-time job? If so, ask your kids to contribute to their own fundraiser. This gets them personally invested and helps them see what it's like to purchase items for a cause. If they're reluctant, this helps them develop empathy, an important character trait.

Find Other Ways to Donate

Your budget may not allow you to spend $25 on cookie dough, but you can find other ways to help out your child's school. As a Krazy coupon lady (or gentleman), you can make that money stretch a lot further than the school can by matching sales and coupons. Instead of spending $25 from a catalog, take $5 and stretch it to buy printer paper, office supplies, or other items needed by the school. Guaranteed, you'll see a lot more appreciation and direct results from your donation versus blindly buying a catalog item.

So don't let the school fundraiser season get you down. Though you may go through a wave of emotions, it's easy surviving the sales once you realize you're not obligated to participate and that you can serve your child's school in your own (couponing) way.

This has been a guest post by Becca from Youngstown, OH
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How to Survive School Fundraisers on a Budget