Going back to school without going broke

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Going back to school without going broke

As the summer vacation comes to an end, you are probably worried about the cost of supplying their uniforms and equipment before the first term begins, without emptying your bank account.

You can easily spend more than $1,000 on those back-to-school expenses and that is just to fund one child. Where you have more than one child your costs are rapidly escalating.

Apart from school uniforms you will have to consider a new backpack and wonder why they only last for one year.

There may be a number of books and other stationery items that your children will require as well as the latest and most fashionable water bottle.

During difficult economic climates, you will be in a similar position to many parents and guardians and looking to save money on all of your school associated costs.

You children will learn a great life lesson when you teach them about peer pressure and the reasons that they do not need to own the latest and most expensive model of everything that they require.

Purchasing the latest Justin Bieber or Rhianna merchandise is not necessary; it is more likely to be stolen at school and is an unnecessary waste of money, especially when times are tough.

The time period to update your back-to-school outfit always appears to be relatively short, but some retailers are showing an initiative by introducing sales just after the first school term begins, so if you can put off making a purchase until that time, you may save yourself sufficient dollars to be able to afford a few extras.

You do, however, run the risk that the shops will run out of stock when you go to purchase.

Even though your children will suggest that they need new items every year, you should assess the condition of their uniforms and stationary equipment to see whether they really do need to be updated.

It may be that the items are in a good enough condition to be handed down to another member of the same family.

Have you any relatives or neighbours who may have children’s uniforms or equipment that they no longer need?

It is sensible to purchase uniforms that are slightly too large so that your children will be able to wear them for a longer period as they grow quickly.

A backpack is a staple for any child at school, to carry their books and other necessary requirements.

There are many generic versions that are less than half the price of expensive labels and when you consider that they may not last beyond one school year, you are not receiving a higher quality because you are spending more money.

You should be aware that sometimes purchasing the cheapest item is not the best buy, particularly if it wears out and you will need to replace it before the second term begins.

Labelling uniforms with the child’s name and your home telephone number may potentially save you sufficient dollars over the course of the school year so that you might be able to divert extra funds towards additional books and stationery.

Where you have the opportunity to buy in bulk, you might be able to save money by combining with other parents or consider purchases at different times of the year to spread the burden of the cost.

By planning ahead, you will be able to budget sufficiently so that your children are not embarrassed, but teaching them life lessons is more important than trying to attend school with the latest and greatest Smartphone.

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Samuel Rosenberg is the founder and CEO of Axcel Finance Ltd., the leading regional microfinance institution. Share your thoughts and email your questions to [email protected]

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