The long lines at photo studios and the rush for the best dresses indicate that we are in graduation season. This is the time of year where from kindergarten to university students gear up to graduate. I know you might be thinking that this is a very special time of year but it can also be very expensive.
Jamaicans love the pageantry and exclusivity of ceremonies. We love it so much that even a child moving from kindergarten or basic school to grade one in primary school is given a grand send off, notwithstanding the fact that they are not really leaving the school.
While this kind of grand ceremony is very emotional for the parents, it’s approached in a very mercenary way by most schools. The money adds up and soon parents find themselves digging deeper and deeper in their pockets to pay for these ceremonies.
Graduation packages can soar as high $20,000 which can certainly put a dent in anyone’s budget. Let’s not forget the other costs associated with graduation, such as hairstyles, shoes and accessories.
In some cases there are graduation balls where students are required to dress formally. Formal outfits can run up the bill even futher and of course there us an additional cost for the tickets.
The actual items included in graduation packages seem to be minimal to me after all they charge for decoration, music, gown, chairs certificate and a keepsake. Does it really need to be so expensive though?
I still think a lot of what is offered could be done at a reduced cost. Since most graduations take place at school perhaps they could ask companies to offset the cost of some aspects of the ceremony.
How can you save money?
It’s hard to tell your child that you can’t afford for her to enjoy what she sees her classmates doing, so how do you pay for it? By being very proactive and getting a savings plan for the event! Choose carefully of course not every ceremony is important but moving from primary to high school and then leaving high school are landmarks that I think should be celebrated.
The best thing to do to save is to be prepared that way it does not seem like a rush. The administration of schools often don’t discuss with parents the graduation costs early in the year but you can find out what it cost last year to get some idea of the cost. So start saving early!
Alterations to dresses can be arranged to avoid the cost of buying new clothes for the occasion. If that is not possible consider asking around as a relative may have a suitable dress that they don’t mind donating as their gift. Another thing to bear in mind is that when relatives call offering their congratulations remind them of your graduation savings fund and see if they would be willing to assist.
So what’s your take on the issue?
Let me hear from you!
Teri Ann Renee Paisley
Gleaner online writer