Operation Don’t Go Broke is devoted to bringing readers helpful tips on ways to save in college.
With the average annual cost of daycare now exceeding the price of college tuition, according to Child Care Aware of America, degree-seeking parents are striving to make ends meet while balancing their time between work, school and family.
These tips are designed to help students bring balance to their family budget:
Spend time not money
Giving your child “the floor” is worth more than all the money you could spend on “stuff.”
- Set time aside each evening to read and do homework together.
- Encourage your children to help with chores and meal prep.
- Get active and take the fun outdoors.
- Break out the art supplies and get crafty.
- Surprise them on your lunch hour
Affordable Family Fun around Central Oregon
Central Oregon’s parks, lakes, mountains and streams make it a giant playground for families. Take advantage of affordable family fun near you.
- Head to High Desert Museum for Family Free Day.
- Visit your local library during storytime.
- McMenamins often shows family movies at noon and 3 p.m. During the summer, watch for Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express featuring family movies for $1 at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- See the stars up close at Pine Mountain Observatory on Saturday and Sunday nights May through September. Located just 30 minutes from Bend, the observatory is great for grade-schoolers on up and is free with the option of donating.
- Summertime is loaded with free activities to keep families busy, from floating the river to free concerts, and don’t miss the annual Fourth of July Pet Parade.
- Winter in Central Oregon offers the perfect conditions to build a snowman, start a snowball fight or go sledding. Then, warm up with a hot cup of cocoa by the fire.
Cutback on child care costs
Finding quality child care at an affordable cost is a challenge for parents everywhere, which is why so many parents are searching for a better alternative.
- Have Dad stay home with the kids or ask a family member to babysit.
- Consider working and scheduling classes opposite shifts, so one parent can always be home.
- Ask for a discount if you have more than one child in daycare.
- Check out after-school options like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club and the Good News Club.
- Co-op with friends, trading off babysitting each other’s children so each set of parents gets a night out.
- Look into the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which reduces your taxable income.
Saving on family expenses
- Contact Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College to sign up for their food bank.
- Healthy homemade foods are better for your budget than expensive pre-made meals and snacks out of a box.
- Apply for Oregon Health Plan through the Department of Human Services.
- Keep your family healthy by eating right, getting plenty of sleep and exercise.
- Join a clothing-swap on Facebook and get gently used items for less.
- Shop during the off-season from clearance racks.
- Stash gifts in a closet so you’re prepared for the birthdays that land between paydays.
- Give out homemade gifts as party favors. Tutorials for do-it-yourself playdough and crayons are available online.
First year COCC nursing student Anna Quesenberry is a wife and mother of two who is passionate about saving money.
Next on ODGB, budget your time during Dead Week.