7 ways to beat the ‘back to school costs

Piggy Bank on top of a pile of books.
Our child has grown but our wallet hasn’t

The start of the school year is nearing, and parents all around New Zealand are rejoicing, as the stressful school holiday period is coming to a close. The constant phone calls from home and “what can I eat” text lessen, as we can send our child off to school while we attend our daily working routine. Yes, it’s a lovely thought to have, but we aren’t quite there yet. Our holidays have come to an end, and although our funds are running low from the Christmas and New Year period, we still need to cough up the cash for the New Year school supplies.

Our child has grown but our wallet hasn’t, and the need to get new school uniforms, books, backpacks and stationery, can be a lot of pressure on the Classic Kiwi family. The costs of putting our children through school increases year by year as more and more accessories are needed. Technological advancements, shifts in the school’s curriculum and the constant drift of our child’s extra curricula interests can all burn a hole in our wallets as their education and happiness is a priority for us.

We know of the costs that are coming over the next couple of weeks, but we also know some tips and tricks to help beat them. We have listed a few of our best ones below that we believe will be able to reduce some of the stress that the ‘back to school’ costs bring.

Check out the School Website

Going on the school website is a great way to find yourself a bargain as quite often they will have their very own second-hand school clothing shops as well second-hand books sales. Find out when sales are on or read up on their recommendations on where to buy the necessities. The schools themselves are aware of the price burden of schooling supplies and how they fall at a difficult time. They too, want the best for your child, so they will have offers/recommendations that will be cost effective for your family.

Use Social Media

Everyone is online nowadays, and shopping/selling on social media has become massive. Check to see if the school has a Facebook page, have a scan of the Facebook market place or reach out to friends with a status. Quite often people will have books, clothing or stationery that is just sitting around at home, not going to use. You might be able to find yourself a quick, easy deal or a lucky freebie from a friend! You won’t know unless you look.

Sell Your Old School Gear

Following on from our tip of buying second-hand online, you should sell your child’s old school clothes and textbooks too. Teach them to take good care of their school gear, as being able to sell them off to another family who will need it can be beneficial to everyone. You may be able to do this at your school’s clothing and bookstore too. They will be more than willing to take in your old school gear (dependent on condition) and give you discounts off any purchases you may need to make. Kind of like trading in your old phone and paying a bit less for the upgraded version.

Scout Ahead and Prepare for Day One

If this is your child’s first day of school they might be nervous about their new surroundings, this is why it pays to visit the school beforehand and let them get used to things. Go for a play on the playground during the weekend or your own private tour of the campus. Get your child comfortable with their surroundings so they are less stressed on the day and so you can stop worrying. Also pays to make sure their backpack and lunch are sorted the night before so you that they have everything ready to go on the day

Start Paying in Advance

Many schools recommend parents to set up automatic payments with school accounts in advance to the school year so that way they aren’t shocked when they are met with unexpected costs. Costs such as camp fees, extracurricular activities or required accessories etc. Having the money going in every week can take stress off you during tough times and can reduce the chance of price shock when your son comes home one day saying he has school camp and a football tournament within the same month.

Speak With Their Teacher

See if you have an option to sit down with their teacher and discuss what your child does, and does not require. A lot of schools require digital tools such as tablets or laptops. Consult with the teacher what is needed, so you don’t go over the top and waste your money on extras that are of no benefit. Don’t let your child convince you they need a MacBook Pro so they can learn long division properly.

Seek Financial Assistance

Times can be tough after the Christmas/New Year holiday, so it isn’t uncommon for New Zealand families to seek financial assistance in the form of a personal loan or a debt consolidation loan. Consolidating your finances into one loan can reduce the burden you pay on having multiple interest rates as well as reducing the amount you need to pay on a weekly basis for your bills. You can reduce the stress brought on from maxing out your credit cards over the holidays, by combining them into one manageable consolidation loan, meaning you will have enough cash week by week to cover the extra costs of your child’s schooling needs.

Additionally, if you are currently on a benefit or low income, you may wish to enquire about financial assistance from Work and Income. You may be eligible to receive compensation that could help cover the costs, brought on by a new school year.

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