In just a few days my son will be starting his junior year of high school. He’s about to embark upon the journey of a new school year where he’ll be taking new classes, making new friends, and making new memories. There’s something else new that he’ll be dealing with this school year.
My son will be on a lunch budget.
When I was in high school, we didn’t have the choices that he has. There was simply lunch. That’s it. My son’s high school cafeteria looks more like a restaurant. They have the base hot lunch, but they also have several other options to choose from. Sometimes my son eats the base lunch, sometimes he chooses one of the options. Sometimes he eats the base lunch plus gets some ice cream, or an extra drink to take with him for the afternoon.
His first two years in high school I took the approach that I wanted him to be able to get whatever he needs to satisfy the hunger of a growing teenage boy. But throughout his sophomore year I started seeing days where he would buy upwards of $8 to $10 worth of food (I can see how much he spends, and what he buys through an online tool). I’m all for him getting his fill, but I also have to be mindful of my own budget. So, this year there’s going to be a limit regarding how much I’m willing to fund his lunch account.
Every two weeks I will electronically deposit $35 into his lunch account. The standard hot lunch cost is $2.35. Ten school days will eat (pun intended) $23.50 of his lunch money leaving him with $11.50 worth of extra money to use as he pleases. Looking at it another way, he can spend an average of $3.50 a day.
If he uses up all of his $35 of lunch money before the two weeks is up, he must buy his own lunch using his own funds. My suggestion is that he digs his wallet out of his pocket to pay anything over $3.50 in any given day.
He will have to watch the balance of his lunch account, and make choices accordingly. I told him that my responsibility is to put $35 into his account every two weeks, he has to take it from there. This will give him a different perspective, and a better understanding as to how much food costs. By making him use his own money for any overages, he will be forced to really think about each purchase, ensuring that they are the best use of the funds he has available.
What do you think, clever friends, would you put your school aged kids on a lunch budget?