‘Back to school’ – How to save money

26 January 2015

You have just ushered in the New Year and before you know it, back to school fever is everywhere. Your next pay day is still a few weeks away and you have to purchase uniforms, books, stationery and not to mention the school fees that are due. To ensure that you make it through – what is undoubtedly the longest month in the year – here are 7 tips to manage the back to school fever:

1.Use your school fees budget to pay for additional costs

Most schools charge fees over 10 months. Don’t be tempted to spend your January school fees budget on non-essential items. Use this money to prepare for the new school year.

2.Apply for reduced school fees

If your kids are attending a public school, you may apply for a reduction or an exemption from school fees. Visit your nearest provincial department of education for more information. Find out if you qualify and if you do, don’t delay in getting your application in.

3.Household Inventory

Before you dash to the stores to purchase things like stationery and books, look to see what items you have at home that may be left over from last year. You will notice that items like pens, pencils, lunch boxes and backpacks can still be used for another year.

4.Buy used school uniforms

School uniforms are a necessity and cannot be avoided. Consider purchasing second hand uniforms from your schools second hand shop. These are usually a third of the price you pay at the uniform supplier. Alternatively, repair last year’s uniform to tide you over until mid-February. Uniform prices are usually marked down at this time.

5.Leave the kids at home

Taking the kids on this shopping trip usually leads to unnecessary purchases. Ask them to make you a list of items they need, cross reference that list with your household inventory, highlight the items that are necessary and go shopping for them on your own. Most of the time your children do not need everything on that list. Focus on the necessities like notebooks, and paper. You can make bulk purchases of these items to last for the year. Also try purchasing online and look out for sales.

6.Buying second hand text books

Approach the school and get a list of all the books for the upcoming year. Depending on the subjects/course you can get used books for less or consider e-books. There is also the option of getting set works printed at your local printing company. It also helps to get your kids a library card where they can access books and internet facilities for free.

7.Avoid giving money to your children for lunches

Create a monthly menu for your children’s packed lunches. Make a list of items that you can buy in bulk and visit your nearest wholesaler and purchase these items at a discount price. Avoid giving your kids tuck-shop money, rather use that money for other things they may need.

8.Start or enrol your children in a lift club

To save on transport costs it helps to start a car pooling club with other families in your area whose children attend the same school. Approach them or start a club to enable you all to benefit from reduced travelling expenses. Alternatively, you can purchase a monthly bus or train ticket to benefit from the packages that they offer.

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Author: Zandile Ramalohlanye (DebtBusters Financial Consultant)

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