Schools back – how’s the budget?

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Managing back to school expenses

Your kids may be ready for the new term but unfortunately, school expenses don’t stop at the uniform and books.

The cost of educating your children is an ongoing household expense that extends for more than a decade and just gets higher as they get older.

So how do you manage to incorporate school expenses without straining your family’s savings?

Like most things financial, a budget is essential and the first thing to do to get a handle on school expenses for 2017 is to work out exactly what you spend your money on during the year.

Lunches, excursions, sports equipment, extracurricular lessons such as music, transport – these are all the additional expenses that mount up after you have paid for uniforms and books.

When you understand how much you spend, setting aside a weekly amount in an account like IMB Bank Reward Saver to make sure you have the necessary cash when you need it is a great way to ensure you are not caught short.

You don’t have to compromise your child’s education

There are a few other things you can do to save the dollars while not compromising on your child’s education.

  • Remember to explore with your school whether it has second-hand uniforms or books available? Children grow at a rapid rate and second-hand uniforms and books make it easier to budget.
  • School lunches purchased at the canteen are always going to be more expensive than lunches brought from home. The key to providing nutritional, cost-effective lunches is pre-planning and shopping for ingredients with a list in advance. Work with your children to decide a weekly school lunch menu and then prepare the night before. Children are more than capable, from an early age, of making their own lunches so encourage them to take responsibility for this household job.
  • School excursions are a bit tricky and expensive. There are at least two – three school excursions each year, often important to your child’s curriculum. Talk to their teachers at the beginning of the year so you have an idea of what is coming when and how much it will cost. If you feel you are not able to afford it, talk to the school and see if they can provide financial assistance. The earlier you raise it with the school, the better the outcome.
  • Joining a sports team or learning to play an instrument is an important part of your child’s socialisation and growth but an additional expense. Talk to your children about what they may want to do at the beginning of the year and then cap it – you might decide they can only do one activity so assess those costs and budget accordingly.
  • In most parts of Australia, school transport is available. Avail yourself of these services, generally provided at no cost to parents, rather than driving your children to and from school. Not only does it save your family petrol money and vehicle wear and tear, it also teaches your children about public safety and independence.
     

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