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Frugal alternatives to school pictures

Parents face social pressure to pay for photos every year.

By Karen Datko Oct 5, 2009 5:13PM

Are school pictures one of those things you can’t sacrifice, no matter what they cost? What if you simply can’t afford them?


Jenn at Frugal Upstate offers three ways to avoid this expensive, annual tradition. (However, she wrote that under the pressure of time, "I caved. … Yes, I have now shelled out a grand total of $75 for school pictures: $29 for each of the kids for one of the smallest packages, then $17 for Buddy’s soccer pictures," she added.

One reader of Lafayette, Ind.-based reported paying $100 total for her two kids. Others lamented that you can’t buy photos a la carte anymore, but have to get an entire package.


"It's like cable. You have to pay for all the stuff you don't want or use," wrote "mockingbirdmom." "What a racket."


Here are Jenn’s frugal suggestions:

  • Limit your spending to the team or class photos.
  • Take them yourself. Jenn directs readers to online help to take a better photo. The one she shares looks pretty good.
  • Find a cheaper source. Look for deals at discount department stores like Wal-Mart, but beware of the up-sell. They may try to get you to buy other poses or more expensive packages.
  • Ignore the concept. If you’ve been documenting your child’s life yourself, why pay for the school version?

But that’s often easier said than done.


"ATaylor2" said at MomsLikeMe, "Unfortunately I am not a very good photographer and I feel this weird social pressure to have pics from each grade." Parents may also worry that their children will feel left out. 


The rebel of the group, mockingbirdmom, said that "I think I take much better pictures of my kids, and between my computer and Snapfish, I can do (touchup or finish) anything and order anything I want very cheaply. I just think it's a big waste of time anymore. Am I alone? Is there another point of view I am missing?"


Related reading:

Published Oct. 5, 2009

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