Having children is not cheap! The costs of sending a child to school are, largely, unavoidable. But there are ways to manage those expenses so that they fit into the family budget.

Buy second-hand or brand-free to save

“Buying second-hand isn’t just great from a financial point of view, it’s also good for our environment,” says Natasha Janssens, founder of . “Search within your community, your school or on Gumtree for second-hand uniforms and computers.”

Other ways to cut costs include:

  • Buying parts of your child’s uniform (such as tracksuit
    pants, polo shirts and shorts) from a chain store, rather
    than an expensive uniform shop.
  • Labelling every piece of your child’s uniform, so that anything lost can be returned to them.
  • Look for items on sale, especially in the post-Christmas sales.
  • If you’re shopping online, take advantage of free shipping offers.

Plan ahead to cut the costs of busyness

When you try to cut corners during the everyday busyness
of the school and work week, you’ll notice your costs tend to rise.

“Give your whole family packed lunches because buying lunch can really add up,” Natasha suggests. It’s also helpful to cook extra at dinnertime so there are leftovers for lunch boxes, and to cook larger batches of foods on the weekends in preparation for the busy week ahead.

Where is help available?

If the costs of schooling are proving to be stressful, you can ask your school about payment options for school fees or other financial assistance they can offer. The website also has information about matched-saver accounts. This is for families on low incomes who can have up to $500 of their savings matched, in order to help with education costs.

Cut household costs to cover extracurricular activities

Whether your child plays sport, learns a musical instrument or loves scouts, their extracurricular activities are part of their educational costs. Research estimates parents spend up to $1644 for primary students and $1897 for secondary students’ extracurricular activities every year. One simple way to find space for these expenses in your budget is to shop around for your insurances and utility providers. “Switching energy providers can save up to $1000 a year, which could then cover some school costs,” Natasha suggests.

Have a buffer

Whether it’s a school camp that’s more expensive than you thought, or replacing lost hats and jumpers, unexpected costs will arise during the year.

“It can be hard to absorb those unexpected costs, amid the cost of living and your budget restraints,” Natasha says. “It’s a good idea to have a bit of a buffer set aside to help when those costs come up.” With a little planning like this, school costs, whether anticipated or unexpected, can be less stressful than ever.