Budgeting for back-to-school

As schools across the country close their doors for the always much-anticipated summer holidays, and back-to-school takes a back-seat to festive season and holiday plans, consumers should be mindful of back-to-school expenses.

They should budget for these to ensure they are not caught off guard in the new year, says Kirsten Reynolds, marketing executive at MyBucks.

“Understandably this time of year anything associated with back-to-school gets put on hold until the new year which unfortunately means that budgets are depleted or stretched when it comes to the increasing cost of schooling,” she says.

In addition to school fees, Reynolds says underestimating the cost of books, stationery, uniforms and transport is a common occurrence in many households when it comes to budgeting for schooling expenses.

“It’s highly advisable for families to gauge how much they can expect to pay for all these costs now, so that if necessary they can adjust their holiday or festive season spending to ensure they have enough for back-to-school costs.

“And in the current economic environment, it would be advisable for consumers to adopt a ‘how much can I afford’ as opposed to a ‘how much will it cost’ approach when it comes to rising living and schooling costs,” she adds.

Below are Reynolds top tips when it comes to budgeting and planning for back-to-school costs:

1)    Plan

Check your child’s stationery and book list to see if items can be re-used from the current school year or whether items can be perhaps be used from older siblings who no longer require them. The same applies to school uniforms.

Following that, put together an essential list of things you will need to buy and price and compare individual items at various stores before going ahead and making the final purchases.

2)    Make purchases sooner rather than later

It’s always advisable to avoid panic shopping at the last minute and spending more money than you can afford.

It also makes sense to kill two birds with one stone and shop for school requirements while you shop around for all your festive season goodies.

When it comes to school uniforms visit the school second-hand or thrift shop before school closes to see if they can assist with any of your uniform requirements.

They usually charge a fraction of the price you would pay in clothing outlets and often their stock is almost as good as new.

3)    Be creative

Most children are into the latest animated character or toy or movie fads.

Many of which big movie or toy conglomerates incorporate into stationery ranges.

These make perfect gifts and can be wrapped up and put under the tree.

4)    Shop online

Many retailers have online platforms allowing you to search and compare costs in the comfort of your own home.

Also keep a look-out for two-for-one specials and bulk discounts and if necessary team-up with family and friends to save where you can.

Some retailers also offer discounts to specific schools so check to see if this applies to your particular school.

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