As we navigate our way through this uncertain time there is one thing that is certain; children will return to education in some shape or form and with education there comes a cost. Here are some tips on how to maintain your Financial Wellbeing while still ensuring you have everything covered.
First things first, having financial visibility in the form of a household budget will ensure that essential household items (your needs) are identified and prioritised. With school returning so do many afterschool activities along with the costs that go with them. Because of this, it is important to have factored such costs into your September budget and are not caught unprepared when it comes time to pay. Use the Bank of Ireland Budget Planner to help you.
Take advantage of early season discounts in shops and online. Buy a little every week which will help even out the cost by spreading it over a number of weeks. Make sure you have a list and keep it to hand, ticking off items as you buy.
The school booklist is often left in a drawer until the last week before returning to school and then it’s all hands on deck to get the books bought, covered and in the bag before September 1st! Check if the school offers a Book Rental scheme, book exchange or if the books you need are available second hand, however some schools may have ceased these schemes due to Covid 19. Check out buying in bundles for stationary and again, see what you already have at home only adding items that need replacing.
Children grow so quickly therefore the perfect fit uniform may not always be the most cost effective. Buy uniforms that allow room to grow and so you will get longer out of them. Check to see if skirts/trousers have sizable hems to let down. Some schools offer a uniform swap and also, look out for generic uniforms and see if you can get the school crest available to sew or iron on to jumpers/polos.
Label everything that goes into your child’s schoolbag and everything they wear. As well as avoiding conflicts over who owns what, it means that items can be returned if left on a bus or in the playground and saves you having to replace them.
You may qualify for the government ‘back to school allowance’, the means-tested payment aimed at helping families with the extra costs when children start school each autumn. The scheme is open from 1 June to 30 September and you can find out more here
And finally, don’t let afterschool activities be an afterthought! Look for activities that offer discount for second and subsequent children. Consider the annual cost of taking part so that it can be budgeted for the rest of the school year!
Budget - Completing a household budget gives your money visibility. It will ensure that essential items are taken care of first and allow you to plan for unexpected expenses. Back-to-Schools costs vary and some additional costs to consider are School Voluntary Contribution, Insurance, After School Childcare/Clubs, Lunches, Travel. Use a template such as the Bank of Ireland Budget Planner
Make a list - Make a list and start planning now, setting a plan and following a list is the basis for successfully achieving any goal. Take advantage of early season discounts in shops and online and tick off your list once you have purchased items. A little every week will take the brunt of the cost by evening out the cost over a number of weeks, so in September you won’t not feel as much of a financial drain on your finances.
School Booklist – Check out if there is a school rental scheme in place and the cost per child to take part in it. Some shops offer discount on books if bought before a certain date – so start early and save. Also check if second hand versions of the book are available ensuring that you check it is the correct version against your booklist.
Uniforms – Children’s uniforms can be handed down to younger siblings if in good order, some schools collect unwanted school jumpers and other items like pinafores and skirts and make them available for new children starting school. Check if school crests can be bought and sewn/ironed onto a generic uniform. This gives options to buy cheaper versions of items like jumpers or polo shirts in chain stores. Children grow so quickly therefore the perfect fit uniform may not always be the most cost effective. Buy uniforms that allow room to grow and so you will get longer out of them.
School Stationary – it is always nice for children to get new items like pencil case, school bag, lunch boxes etc starting out their new school year– however the cost of acquiring all these items can sometimes be as high as their books. Buy a good quality reusable water bottle, some cheaper versions leak and could end up costing you more money if books get destroyed. Check out what you already have, take an inventory and cross check with the booklist to ensure your children have all items on the list.
Labels – Label everything that goes into your child’s schoolbag and everything they wear. Children pick up jumpers or pencils belonging to other children all the time. As well as avoiding conflicts over who owns what, it means that items can be returned if left on a bus or in the playground and will save you having to replace them.
Afterschool Activities – Don’t let afterschool activities be an afterthought as they can be very costly on families. If there are a number of children to cater for, look for activities that offer discounts for additional children taking part. Consider the cost for the full year participation. Most activities either break up the cost over half term/full term; just ensure this is taken into account when you are budgeting for the months ahead and especially for January!
Back to school clothing and footwear allowance - You may qualify for the government ‘back to school allowance’, the means-tested payment aimed at helping families with the extra costs when children start school each autumn.
The scheme is open from 1 June to 30 September and you can find out more here