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School’s Back! 6 Tips to Managing School Fees and Expenses This Year

A mother from Queensland once made headlines after calling out back-to-school expenses when she had to pay $578 in basic school supplies for her children’s public school needs. Her story shares a glimpse of how many parents today are struggling with the rising cost of school expenses and basic education. 

In fact, a university report found that parents who plan to send their kids to a top private school in Sydney are expected to pay up to $500,000 over the course of 13 years. 

Today, Australia’s education costs are on the rise with the double rate of inflation over the last ten years. Not only do parents have to worry about high tuition fees and school supplies but also other additional expenses such as uniforms and the cost of school transportation for their children. 

All this demands a big slice from the family budget and needs to be considered when managing your finances. 

With many parents struggling to make ends meet, every family needs to learn how to manage their budget more effectively to prepare for emerging school expenses that often have a way of catching you off-guard. 

Checklist: Back-to-School Expenses

More than school fees, you are bound to incur additional expenses that should be included in your budget. One way to prepare ahead and be ready for every incoming school year is to create a checklist of all possible back-to-school expenses such as: 

  • School fees. Tuition fees continue to pile up so you’ll need to explore if your child’s school offers flexible payment options and open to smaller payments. There are schools that will require reservation fees, enrollment fees, or a specific down payment to get your child started for the school year. You’ll need to check in with your child’s school so you can prepare and save ahead. 
  • School supplies. Books, basic supplies, laboratory equipment, and even a need for school laptops will need to be factored in as these will be crucial to your child’s education and overall academic performance. 
  • Uniforms. Schools may require students to wear school uniforms. You will need to set aside a budget for this especially at the start of the school year. 
  • Transportation. School bus fees or your family’s daily public transportation expenses to and from school will also need to be listed down under additional costs. 
  • Lunch and snacks. Some schools may offer school lunches, which will need to be considered in your budget. Although preparing for your kids lunches at home can help you save, this will still need to be included in your weekly or monthly budget. 
  • Field trips / excursions / camps. Most school field trips are compulsory and often form a crucial part of your children’s school program. Camps and out-of-state trips are also not uncommon especially for older students. Costs can vary from hundred to thousands. 
  • Extra lessons. Depending on your child’s hobbies and interests, you may need to pay for art and dance lessons, tutorials, or music lessons, which play a big role in their personal development. 

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How to Minimise Back-to-School Expenses

You can minimise back-to-school expenses by taking note of the following steps. 

Round Up All the Supplies You Already Own

It’s often easy to miss, but parents usually end up not being able to keep track of extra school supplies that they may still have at home. 

Jar of coins with label 'education'

Many school supplies are sold in packs and sets, and chances are, your kids still have a few extra supplies stashed in their desk drawers, closets, or basement bins. You’d be surprised to find extra unused pens and markers or extra sheets of paper stacked somewhere.

Teach Your Child Financial Responsibility

One of the most important things you can do as a parent is helping your kids become more financially responsible. Teach them the importance of saving money early on. Getting them started on saving at an early age goes a long way and helps create a pattern of money-saving habits, which will be of use to them later on in life. 

Although it can be difficult to say no to your child’s every whim, it’s important to be firm in saying no and instead encouraging them to save for that toy they want the most. 

Teach them why working hard for what they want matters and why reaching their end goal by saving on their own can be infinitely more rewarding. Parents can do this by encouraging their kids to save their birthday money or that extra cash they get from their grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Save on Extracurricular Activities

Every parent knows how important extracurricular activities are for a child’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing. These activities not only help kids to hone their natural talents and gain confidence, but it can teach them important life values that will help them grow into better adults. 

Though parents may be concerned about extracurricular activities incurring more expenses, there are ways to still do this without the added dent to the family budget. Signing your kids up for after-school activities usually do not require fees.

You can also enrol your kids in community-based programs and keep track of early registration discounts and promotions or try to look for sponsorships and scholarships that your kids may be eligible for. 

Look into Government Subsidies and Programs

In New South Wales, students who live in an isolated area and need to move away to get a secondary education can be granted the Living Away From Home Allowance (LAFHA) with a $2,048 grant. 

There’s also a Boarding Scholarship for isolated students given to students with low-income families and who live in isolated areas. 

It’s important to note that these government programs do exist and should be considered if these circumstances apply to you. 

Refinance Your Mortgage

If you’re struggling with your finances or caught in a bind with school expenses, refinancing your mortgage can allow you to cash out equity that may be available in your home. Although you’ll need to be aware of its transactional costs, refinancing can help you save on interest costs and help you manage your finances better with lower monthly payments.

Seek Financial Advice

If you find yourself in need of professional advice to manage your cash flow and help you take better control of your family’s finances with the start of the new school year, talk to a financial planner who can give you a better sense of your current financial position, help you outline your financial goals for the year, and explore investment opportunities that can build your family’s wealth so you’re always one step ahead. 

At Shore Financial, you get all the support you need to gain a better understanding of what you want to achieve financially so we can find the fastest way for you to get there.  

Disclaimer: This is general information only and should not be taken as financial advice. Please speak to a Shore financial planning professional before making a decision on your home loan.






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