Don't miss a freebie, deal, or new release.Join Now!
banner with headshot and name

Nickel and dimed

I'm on a rant. I hate fundraisers. The elementary school wants me to buy something every other week. If it's not T-shirts, it's cookie dough, wrapping paper, or coupon books. The swim team–to which I already pay enough each month for a new car for God's sake–wants us to bake goods, sling pancakes, sponsor a swim-a-thon, and eat dinner at a local burger joint.

Clip box tops, turn in old phones and batteries, donate buckets and shovels for the new outdoor classroom. And on and on and on…

I know that for people who can't/don't want to pay the money without getting something in return, fundraisers are a great option, but for the rest of us it's nothing but a nuisance.

This is why my husband and I are so enamored of the all-inclusive vacation. Just tell me how much it will be up front and then leave me alone. My son's school offered this option. I took it. And they hit me up regularly anyway. Of course, if I don't come through, he feels like a pariah for being the only kid who didn't buy the T-shirt, cookie dough, or wrapping paper.

And we never order enough for him to get the stupid prize that's going to be cheap and unworthy anyway.

A couple of years ago my sons' school in VA had a cookie dough fundraiser for the PE department to buy Dance Dance Revolution. Never mind the irony of selling sweets to help the kids get healthy. I just didn't want the dough. So we wrote a check as a pure donation. The teacher looked at us funny, then took it. But here's the thing.

If I buy cookie dough, the school gets some cut of the money. If I write a check, the school gets all of it. Which makes more sense?

I really don't mind supporting my kids' schools, or their teams, but just don't nickel and dime me to death along the way.

Rant over.


[tweetmeme source=”yourtwittername” only_single=false]

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    oooh, I’m having that very same issue this year. We’ve had MORE fundraisers and it’s only Kindergarten. Between those and the birthday parties, it’s getting a little ridiculous.

    Now, I did help them out with the one that’s this Wed, the American Heart Association….they’re doing a jump rope challenge. But I’ve hit up family members more times than I care to think about for these crazy fundraisers this year. I’m done. We have 44 days left of the school year. (He might not be counting down, but I am.)

    I’m so with you!

    • Reply

      Yeah, it starts early. My middle schooler definitely doesn’t have as many, so I’ll be glad to get out of elementary next year.

      I still choose a few things to support, but can you tell it’s getting old this week? 😉

  2. Reply

    I do not support 99% fundraisers and I don’t feel guilty. Especially school fundraisers. If there is a need–like a ream of paper I send it in.-but not buy crap I don’t need.

    Granted I may get the school t-shirt, but I’ve stopped that with my eldest once she hit middle-school.

    Most of these fundraisers are to support cottage industries (and why do I want an overpriced anything when only a fraction of the amount spent gets sent back to the school?) I don’t agree with all the gee-whiz outfits and things that they want to have anyway. I am all for the basics.

    Now, granted, its one of the reasons I don’t like sports anymore (I am not dissing anyone whose children are in a sport because I do admire people who enjoy playing one), because its all about matching out fits, and long distant games. What happened to a t-shirt? (Gwen, I know swimming is different, and seriously I am not trying to insult ).

    I don’t care if I’m hated. I’m on a budget. I can’t pay for all the blasted things they think is important.

    Ok, I’ll stop now, I have more to say, as you can tell you hit a nerve….LOL

    • Reply

      Mary, I’m with you. I totally hate how these fundraising guilt you into supporting your school so they can make a killing.

      Sports have gotten really ridiculous. I’m only willing to do swimming because it’s the one my kids actually like, and I understand that a swim center costs more to rent out than a neighborhood park. Plus the coaches can’t just be volunteers like in football or soccer. But even with swimming, the long-distance meets and the push for junior olympics times and all that crap gets crazy. I have my limits.

      I guess if I hit a nerve I must be doing something right! 😉

  3. Reply

    Oy, Gwen. I’ll rant with you. But in a different direction… this time.

    I am so there. Mine starts school next year but my nieces and nephews – not to mention neighbors and friends’s kids – all … ALL hit me up. I think it should be a rule that schools within so many miles of each other are not allowed to do the same fundraiser. I mean really? How many flyers for wrapping paper do I need to look at? Ugh.

    Done. 😀

    • Reply

      Yep. We never let the kids hit up family or friends. Another reason why they never get enough orders for the prize. It’s funny when my neighbors come knocking, and I have to say “no, my son goes to the same school”. Duh, as does half the neighborhood.

    • Reply

      I never would suspect you were. Don’t get me started on charities, either. We deduct automatically from my husband’s paycheck but they make you feel like such a jerk for not donating *right now* when they call or send a letter.

  4. Reply

    Gwen, I am so with you! I hate asking people for money, and that’s what fundraisers boil down to. No one really wants that minute pack of cashews that costs $8. I never realized how awful it was until my daughter started kindergarten this year, and it seemed like every week another fundraiser package came home. I’m cutting the PTO a check next year at the beginning of the year so I don’t feel bad about not selling bread dough and wrapping paper. We live in an economically depressed area–I can’t believe my daughter is the only one not selling enough items to get prizes. And furthermore, it’s the parents who do the work for these fundraisers, not the kids.

    With magazine sales, since we already get more than we can read, I decided to order a subscription for our library (with funding cuts, many of their subscriptions have expired). I also ordered a magazine that I will use in care packages for soldiers. Now I find that with magazine sales at least, part of the money goes to the school, and the magazines themselves become a donation. Now I’m less crabby about them!

  5. Reply

    One more thought. My sister just told me that her kids (in private school) will have no more fundraisers after this year. Each family is responsible for coming up with a certain amount of money from a corporate sponsor or pay out of pocket. The names or ads of these sponsors will be printed on every program for sports, music, whatever that the school uses that year. And that’s it. My sister has 4 kids and she is very excited about this idea.

    • Reply

      Kathleen: This is exactly the kind of thing I want. That way the people who are motivated not to spend the money will go get sponsors, and the rest of us can write a check and be done. Brilliant!

  6. Reply

    Hey, my child’s daycare had fundraisers and that was even before she started kindergarten. At first I felt bad for my children, then we made a deal. I would buy a little something to keep them from feeling too bad. Anyway, it was the rich kids that usually won as their parents and grandparents bought so much. I refused to take the fundraisers to work. I didn’t want my co-workers avoiding me during the school year. Whenever I felt sorry for the kids because of one reason or another tied up with the fundraiser, I would pick up a little prize for them at the Dollar store. They quickly forgot they didn’t “win” a prize.

    • Reply

      Jeez, daycare seems a bit much! The Dollar Store treat is a great idea. I always try to point out to my kids that they could get something so much better for the same money. We always have the same discussion at Chuck E. Cheese when they waste all their tokens “gambling” for tickets…

  7. Reply

    I am so with you! My son’s school hits us up every other week or so. Bot only cannot I not afford all this, but he’s special needs and only gets limited benefits from this stuff and only has limited interest in it. We don’t have anyone we can hit up for sponsorships or donations, and even if we did I’d feel terrible doing it in this economy.

    We prioritize what is important to us (we always get something from book sales, for example) but it makes us real resentful to be hounded for money all the time. Worse is the idea that we’re less of parents (you should see some of the looks and such the “nonparticipants” get) because we can’t throw money at the school too.

    • Reply

      Exactly! I’m much more inclined to support the fundraisers that directly benefit my boys, and I don’t think the children or the parents should be made to feel guilty for not participating in every event.

  8. Reply

    Sounds like this post might move right up there with “Templates” in the count. 🙂

    Who would have ever thought peer pressure could turn up in the form of a Band Booster fruit cake sale or T-shirts for the trip?

    This is why I would never ever again by one of those Manor fruitcakes. EVER.

    And, those dumb Harvest Festivles.. “We can buy lousy cola drinks in a can for 40cents and sell them for 50 cents.” Wow! What a business plan.

  9. Reply

    I’ve paid my share of $$ for school fundraisers. I’ve also co-chaired my daughter’s elementary school silent auction fundraiser. Blah. Paid my dues literally. When she got to Middle School, there was a check written at the beginning of the year, your discretion, and that was it–I THOUGHT IT WAS IT. Nope. Throughout the rest of the year each department had fundraisers–I especially hate the magazine one. In HS it is just the same. And if your kid is in a class that goes to competitions (like dance, singing/choral etc.) you have to barf up money for the trips in addition to the fundraisers to pay for the trips. This year I’ve paid for T-shirts, a long black choral dress (100 dollars), new character shoes, tons of black hose knee highs, another cocktail dress for the “jazz” number, more hose and that’s for ONE class. I’ve also paid for paper, sent in money for chemistry supplies (school budget got cut), bought a “business” outfit for a play my daughter is in, spent $$ on food for the drama dept. during the last two weeks of rehearsals for a musical (mind you it was easier to write one check and have the uber volunteers provide 14 meals but it was over 100 out of my pocket in one blow).

    Hmmm, I better stop listing all of the things I paid for cause I think I am up to over a thousand when I add in the school trip. I did make my daughter choke up money for the trip she goes on for choir. I put $50 in the bank and she put $50 in the bank to come up with the cash. Now she has a boatload of moola leftover for another fun summer camp.

    I had a friend with older kids, married now, who said that it’s like having a low income wage earner in your house. When they go to college, there are other expenses, but she’s right. The nickel and diming and 100 dollaring adds up!

    • Reply

      Christine: It’s depressing. I didn’t even go into the beginning of year school supplies or mandatory items for participation in certain classes. I understand budget cuts, but it is getting ridiculous.

  10. Rich


    I’m all for helping the needy. Well, not me personally but I applaud those that do.

  11. Reply

    I totally agree. I couldn’t stand all the school fundraising when my kids were there full time.
    I’ve got two daughters, 3 years apart. I really hated it when they wanted them to sell chocolates or something to “friends” or “neighbors”. I mean, come on. There were kids going door to door peddling this stuff.

    I feel, in today’s climate, it is just too damn dangerous for that kind of activity.

    That’s what all those taxes are for. Isn’t it? Unless school boards want to show parents all the financial statements and explain away fruitless spending?

    • Reply

      Yes, Daryl. Door-to-door is dangerous and just plain irritating to the neighbors. And don’t get me started on the taxes. No one wants to pay for the education with higher taxes, but they want a competitive, educated workforce. Huh. It might not hurt if governments were run more like businesses either. Yes, I’m politically schizophrenic…

  12. Kathy Fawcett


    Our school did away with fundraisers two or three years ago. We do a one time payment per family at the beginning of the year for the “Invest in Your Child” program. I think it’s like $35.00. We had 67% participation this year and was able to put on wonderful cultural arts programs, mini-grants awarded to teachers who come up with innovative programs/activities, our annual Halloween read-in, etc…

    I love not having fundraisers!! The school still collects box-tops if you are so inclined to bring them in (which I do) and they do two clothing drives which they get x amount of money per pound. Clothing drives are easy; with two growing kids, I always have a bag or two to donate.

    And I love girl scout cookies so I don’t mind the neighbors hitting me up for those. 🙂

    • Reply

      Kathy: I love your school! I don’t actually mind collecting box tops, though we don’t buy a lot of stuff that has them. I also don’t mind clothing drives. It’s just all the crap that they want to sell me. And, yes, who could resist GS cookies? 😉

  13. Reply

    Now girl scout cookies are different. 🙂 I mean we plan for those. They don’t actually sell them. We rush to get the cookies. The audlts who stand with the girls outside stores seem proud with strong leanings toward smug. As, in, “it’s a public service that we are here people.” 🙂

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.