The start of a new year means school is just around the corner. While it’s an exciting time for kids to head back to school, it can also be stressful for parents, especially when it comes to unexpected expenses.
From school supplies to clothing, digital devices and other educational expenses, it’s important to understand how to minimise these costs so your kids get what they need without putting you under too much financial pressure.
Back to School Expenses to Consider
While a child’s education in New Zealand is technically free, there are a lot of costs related to school that parents and caregivers are responsible for. Common expenses include:
- School uniforms and footwear
- Digital devices such as iPads and laptops
- School fees
- Educational trips
Some of these expenses, like uniforms, may be expected. However, costs for things like devices and trips could come as a surprise, especially when these could easily add up to more than $1000.
While these costs may be unwelcome, there are some things you can do to manage them.
Create a School Budget
If you’ve thought about this early enough, creating a budget can help you plan and prepare for your back to school expenses. To start, list all of the necessary expenses, such as school supplies, clothing, devices and educational fees you know are likely to come up. Then, allocate a specific amount of money for each item and adjust your budget accordingly.
This is a good strategy if you’re planning ahead, but if you’ve left it a little late, there are other options.
Early shopping allows you to take advantage of back-to-school sales and discounts. Saving a few dollars here and there on school supplies, clothing, and shoes, can go a long way in reducing your overall back-to-school costs. Additionally, shopping early gives you the chance to spread your purchases over a few weeks, rather than buying everything at once.
Buy Second-Hand Items
Buying second-hand items can help you save money on back-to-school expenses, especially things like uniforms. You can find used clothing, backpacks, devices, and even school supplies online or at your local op shops.
TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace are popular options for people looking for good second-hand things. This option also helps to reduce environmental waste while teaching your kids the value of reusing and recycling.
Many schools offer second-hand uniforms too, so be sure to ask the office. It could be that you buy the bare minimum at the start, and top up the uniform as the year goes by.
Making Lunches More Affordable
Buying lunchbox items in small, individual packets may be convenient and popular with the kids, but this is a very expensive option. Instead, consider buying items in bulk and putting them in smaller portions yourself. It takes a bit more effort, but the rewards are huge. Buying supermarket home brand products is also considerably cheaper than branded alternatives, so choose these options where you can.
Learn about what financial assistance is available
The government provides help for some families struggling with education costs, such as the OSCAR subsidy for out-of-school care, and the School and Year Start-up Payment. The Ministry of Education website provides more information about these options and how to apply.
Talk to the school
Don’t be afraid to tell the school you’re under financial pressure. There are many families in the same boat. Ask the school to defer your fees if you can’t pay them up front.
Loansmart Can Help With Back-to-School Expenses
If there’s a back-to-school expense that’s caught you by surprise, the friendly team at Loansmart can help. Whether it’s a big school trip you want your child to experience, or they need a device for learning, have a chat with us about how we can help make this happen. We specialise in providing fast, easy, low-cost loans without any of the hassle.
Get in touch with Loansmart for a free chat with a member of our team. You can fill out our simple 3-minute online application form, give us a few basic details, and we’ll give you a call to discuss your needs. It’s so easy!