Avoid the back-to-school financial burden in January by planning ahead

Preparing to go back to school after a long December holiday can be very stressful, especially with the costs involved in paying for school fees, books, uniforms and stationery.

Marlies Kappers, DirectAxis Financial Services head of marketing, said while there was no way of avoiding some back-to-school expenses, some planning and preparation could go a long way to limit financial stress in January.

DirectAxis spoke to some teachers and parents to find suggestions on how to manage back to school expenses:

  • Start planning when school ends. Check all stationery and uniform items to see what needs to be replaced. Check whether essential items are lost or left at school. Explore the school’s second-hand shop and try buy as much as you can as early as possible.
  • Gather reliable information on what your child needs for next year instead of relying on your child, who might share their wants instead of their needs. Try to gather as much specific detail as possible so you don’t waste money buying the wrong thing.
  • Don’t be tricked into buying the most expensive technology, rather contact the school and see what the required device will be used for and rely on advice from other parents and teachers instead of the sales consultant at the tech store.
  • Eliminate the element of surprise by compiling a basic budget based on what you spent last year and add in any additional expenses to replace lost or worn out items. Add a bit for unexpected expenses, such as a new gum guard for rugby or a white shirt for the choir tour.

For most people, spreading the cost from before school ends to the inevitable additional expenses when it re-starts is generally easier than paying everything at once.

Inquire whether there is a discount for paying school fees annually rather than monthly or each term and consider whether you can afford to pay the lump sum and save.

Plan ahead and avoid the surprise financial burden in January when uniforms, books and stationery need to suddenly be bought after the Christmas rush.

“Most of the people we spoke to agreed that planning ahead, putting some money aside for unexpected expenses, spreading the costs where possible and getting children what they need for school, rather than what they want, are the best ways of limiting back-to-school financial stress,” said Kappers.


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Staff Reporter

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