Back to school on a budget

By Drum Digital
04 February 2014

Are you pulling the purse strings tighter and tighter, but there seems to be some month left over at the end of your salary? School expenses can make a nasty dent in your finances if not managed carefully. We give you some tips on how to stay within a successful budget.

  • Start with a budget and let the older kids help you decide how to stick to it. Explain how much you can spend and what the implications are if you exceed the budget (fewer movies for instance). Let them help you draw up a list of everything they need. When it comes to stationery and books stick to the list provided by the school and don’t buy non-essentials. Also recycle usable items from last year such as files.

  • Stick to your budget. Put cash aside and use it for everyday shopping – if you use a credit card it’s much easier to spend more.

  • Leave younger kids at home to preserve your sanity when you go shopping but take the older kids with you so they can help you compare prices and make decisions.

  • If children insist on having luxury items – expensive branded training shoes, for example – let them work out how to fit it into the budget and where they can cut down. Or let them use their pocket money to pay the difference between an ordinary pair of trainers and the ones they want. Remember you aren’t doing your kids any favours by giving them everything their little hearts desire – the sooner they learn the value of money and financial judgment the better. Kids will take better care of expensive items if they understand how much they cost.

  • Look out for second-hand goods to help balance your budget. Be proactive – ask older kids in the neighbourhood if they want to sell their books, calculators and even PCs. Save by selling your kids’ old school uniforms.

  • Buy in bulk especially when shopping for things such as plastic sleeves for files.

  • Build up a stationery supply for those late-night occasions when the kids suddenly need pens or a writing pad and you’re forced to buy them from a convenience store at great expense. Supplement your supply with free pens, note pads and other marketing freebies from conferences and hotels.

  • Before forking out hundreds of rands on an extramural activity ask if your kids can attend one or two sessions to ensure they enjoy it and have the enthusiasm to carry on. It’s a rule in some families to limit extramural activities to one or two.

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