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Back to School Tips to Help You Save a Few Rands​

Back to school season is here. We've compiled some tips on how you can stretch your rand during this back to school season.


Back to school season represents a busy, emotional, and stressful time for parents throughout the country. Between ensuring that your child has enough school supplies and a uniform to trying to get them prepared on time for the first day, the beginning. The year can take a toll on your finances especially if went on holiday in December. Here are a few tips to help you get through this “Januworrying" period with as little stress possible:

1.     First tackle the most urgent back-to-school priorities

Although you may ideally want to purchase the full list of back-to-school items, rising costs and a tighter budget may prevent you from doing so. Create a list of the most urgent items, such as school books, and purchase those as soon possible. Some schools will provide a list of school items that's required for each learner. This can place parents under pressure. By purchasing the most urgent items, you'll be able to dedicate much-needed time to set aside money for items that can carry over from last year and be used for a little longer. Click here for more information on how you can effectively create and maintain a budget for school items and other household expenses.

2.     Establish a spending limit

With the beginning of the school year being so important for all parents and learners alike, it may be tempting to dedicate the bulk of your budget to school items. However, regular expenses don't stop for January. To avoid compounding debt and being forced to stretch your budget even more later in the year to cover the expenses missed in January, establish a back-to-school spending limit. This will encourage you to prioritise the most urgent and important school items, while staying up to date with your regular monthly expenses.


3.     If you can find it in second hand, buy it second hand

Children often grow out of clothes, including school uniform faster than the uniform can wear off. As such, parents often find themselves with perfectly good school uniform they can no longer use. If your child's school has a second-hand shop, you may find good quality uniform at much lower prices. Alternatively, join your school's social media groups and find out if any parents are willing to part with their child's old uniform at a lesser price. Items like jerseys and blazers can last several years if taken care of properly, so if you can find a parent to buy uniform from, do so.  You could also do the same with your children's school uniform or other school related resources.


4.     Set a little aside for possible unforeseen expenses

From torn uniform to lost text books, unforeseen school expenses will eventually creep up throughout the year. Setting some money aside from your monthly budget to cover these expenses will help you avoid dipping into your savings or having to borrow money unexpectedly. Click here for more information on effective saving tips for unexpected expenses


5.     Where possible, include your child in financial conversations about their schooling  

This tip may only work for parents with older children, but it helps to keep it in mind for parents whose children are still very young. Being as transparent as possible with your child will help them understand the family's financial situation. By being honest with the things you can and cannot afford, you help your child to have a realistic expectation of the school year to come, therefore preventing them from have unrealistic expectations, especially around extramural activities and excursions.


6.     Plan your children's lunch meals

To save money, make your children's lunchboxes instead of giving them money to buy at the tuck shop. You can stretch your money further by buying their lunch supplies such as juice boxes and snacks in bulk when they are on sale.


7.     Find a lift club to your child's school

If driving your kids to school increases your monthly fuel cost drastically, find a lift club for them. If you are living at a new development area and there aren't any, find parents with kids who go to the same school as your child and start a new one. Alternatively, you can ask your child's school if the school has their own transport available as this might be more affordable.


8.     Buy school supplies throughout the year

Do not wait for the beginning of the year to buy school supplies, shops usually inflate their prices when the demand is high. Whenever you have extra money throughout the year buy things your child might need in the following year, this will save you money and the stress in January.


As stressful as the start of school period may be, there are ways you can help your money stretch a little further. Through effective planning and prioritising the items your child needs most, you'll be able to breathe a little easier early in the year.


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