Tips to help you manage back to school expenses

Schools are officially back in full swing and with many consumers over indulging during the festive season, purchasing school necessities can be a financially stressful task. Moneybags’ writer, Alina Hardcastle, explores ways to prevent your child’s school expenses from draining your bank account.

According to Sydney Sekese a certified financial planner and the, 2016 Financial Planning Institute’s Media Award winner, research indicates that it costs around R90 000 a year to raise a child. On a straight-line projection (excluding inflation or growth) that’s over R20 700 000 by the time the child reaches 23 years old.

“Raising a child could be likened to a second housing bond. This is because raising a child is a long-term commitment that could last 23 years or more; including starting that first job. So, if you already have a housing bond, the child could be considered a “second bond,” he says.

 Handy tips

Head of consumer education at First National Bank (FNB), Eunice Sibiya explains that making financially smart decisions when preparing for the new school term can help you get through the tough month of January. She offers the following tips to help parents along this school year and years to come:

  • Avoid buying everything brand new: Sibiya advises going through all stationery and school uniforms that you still have at home. She says: “Take time to go through all the left over items from last school year such as files that can be recovered and reused, pencils, pens and rulers as well as school bags and last year’s lunch boxes that may just need a good wash.” Sibiya also advises that you enquire about second hand and school swop shops.
  • Purchase school supplies smartly: Don’t buy your child’s school supplies all at once. Rather consider spacing it out during the year. “Online platforms usually have a wide variety of items such as stationary online, where you can choose the most cost effective options,” says Sibiya. “Shopping online also prevents impulse buying as it is easier to stick to a list.”
  • Make use of rewards and vouchers: It’s the ideal time to max out any rewards programme that you have access to, whether it is your bank, cell phone provider or grocery store or pharmacy. Even just a few cents on an item will make some sort of a difference.
  • Plan ahead for the rest of the year:  Don’t be short sighted when it comes to the school year and finances. Start planning ahead by requesting a school calendar. This will help you to budget and avoid any last minute or additional costs e.g. sporting season, school tours, matric dance etc. 

“There is no reason to be caught off-guard when it comes to the expenses that seem small relative big expenses such as school fees. A bit of budgeting and smart savings techniques such as the above can go a long way,” concludes Sibiya.