The new school year is almost upon us and many parents are scrambling to ensure their children have everything they need for a successful start.
“Besides the normal school fees, parents need to fork out extra on uniforms, stationery, extracurricular activities, excursions; to mention a few. This sometimes puts strain on parents’ pockets; especially if these unforeseen expenses are not planned for,” says Ester Ochse, FNB Product Specialist.
She believes that saving for your child’s education should be a top priority for parents.
Ochse highlights a few aspects to consider to ensure that children’s educational needs are taken care of:
- Research schools
When choosing which school your child will go to, you need to consider the area it is located in, how safe it is, if you’d be able to get to the school quickly if there’s a problem and whether it is affordable.
- Start saving for your child’s education
Ochse says it’s never too late to start saving, whether for crèche, nursery, primary or tertiary education. Every bit you save can make the financial burden lighter in future and help your children get the best education possible. Look into a savings account, trust or investment that offers great interest and consider setting up a debit order to ensure you save a little bit every month.
- Make the choice between private and public schools
Although your budget may ultimately decide which route you take, ensure that your chosen school gives your child the support they need, the extra-curricular activities you think they’d be interested in and where they feel comfortable with the environment, teacher and fellow pupils.
- Revise your budget
With a new year come price increases and a new budget. Ensure yours is up-to-date and that you don’t overspend in unnecessary places.
- Calculate and include all fees
Ensure that all fees for school, extra classes and possible medical emergencies are on your list. Ensure that you have enough money saved up to cover these costs when they crop up during the year.
- Consider the day-to-day school expenses
Remember that any extra-curricular activities, as well as school trips or fun days may bring extra expenses and set aside an amount in your budget especially for this. Don’t enrol you child in a class or pay a year’s fee upfront, if your child isn’t really committed and enjoys an activity.
- Afterschool help
As both parents in the majority of families work these days, they will need to hire a nanny or enrol their children in afterschool programs. See which option will work out best for you and your child. If you do decide to get a nanny, ensure that it is someone that will be able to help them with homework, keep them safe and well-fed.
- Try to find bargain textbooks
If your children need extra reading material or text books not supplied by the school, find out if you can get them from friends or family who have completed the course or grade or look for the books in a second-hand shop or online.
School uniforms are rather expensive, so find out where you can cut costs. Find out if the school has a second-hand shop or if you can buy parts of the uniform like socks or plain shirts at other more affordable shops.