How to Spend Less on Your Kids’ Meals This School Year
The rising cost of food has been one of the bigger financial stressors on families in recent years as grocery prices have been slow to fall back down. Covering the cost of meals, especially as children head back to school, is on the minds of countless families across the country as they face a new school year.
If you’ve experienced sticker shock at grocery stores, you may be wondering what else you can do to more easily pay for your children’s meals this year. Fortunately, as with most things, asking this question is the first step to finding better solutions for your family’s financial circumstances.
Programs Offering Free School Breakfast & Lunches Coming to States Like Illinois
As you may have heard, getting people more help to pay for school lunches has been a big topic of conversation lately. A bill proposing a new “Healthy School Meals for All Program” was recently passed, which is intended to offer free breakfast and lunches to eligible K-12 students across the state of Illinois. Doing so would take a big weight off of families living paycheck to paycheck, who can’t always afford the
Illinois is just one of many states grappling with the question of how to help families cover these types of costs. There are already many schools that provide free meals to kids. If this proposal passes, there could be even more funds to help cover the costs of both breakfast and lunch in your community.
Contact Your School for Information about Meal Assistance & Other Help for Parents
Have you asked your local school for help? They may be aware of meal assistance for families outside of their own food programs.
Find out what else is available in your area. The Greater Chicago Food Depository not only provides staples for people living in Cook County who can’t afford them, but it also lists other resources that are available in local communities. To apply for food benefits or locate a program that provides free groceries, check out their website. There may be similar programs for those living in other communities throughout the Midwest.
Explore Ways to Spend Less Money on Groceries
One of the first things families can do this year is examine where their grocery money is already going. It’s all too easy to spend a little extra here and there when out shopping. You may pick up snacks you don’t need if you are shopping on an empty stomach, which is why experts recommend going grocery shopping after meals, not before. And while pre-packaged meals are certainly convenient, they don’t give consumers the same bang for their buck as ingredients for meals made from scratch.
Is there a grocery store that sells discounted items in your neighborhood? Try to get what you can from lower-cost sources when possible. Membership clubs such as Costco can be of assistance for larger families with lots of mouths to feed. Coupons and sales can also reduce overall costs, but only if you’re sure they’re not simply enticing you to buy items you normally wouldn’t.
Find Innovate Ways to Cut Down on Other Bills and Unnecessary Expenses
The free meals may not have reached your child’s school quite yet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any other form of assistance. Some families are also looking for ways to cut down on expenses in other areas to make room for meal costs. Perhaps there is a way to make a little more room for food costs by adjusting your budget in other areas.
Take a look at these common ways that you may be overspending, even by a few dollars:
- Cable, phone and internet bills
- Credit card interest rates and late charges
- New clothing
- Unnecessary school supplies
- Other monthly bills
Midwestern Currency Exchanges Can Help You Manage Your Finances
When parents start exploring their options, they are oftentimes surprised by the savings they come up with. Don’t forget to take advantage of the many auto and financial services at Currency Exchanges throughout Illinois. Staying on top of your family’s finances will help you start off the school year on the right foot.
Reach out to your local Community Currency Exchange (CCEA) to find out what else we can do for you this school year. When you stop by your nearest location you can get a whole host of tasks taken care of quickly – all under one roof!
With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.