The month September means a lot to 50 million primary and secondary school students, because it is resumption and fun time. With some of them eager to tap into opportunities and making new friends.
But most parents are worried about scores of issues. From school fees to new uniforms, books and allowances, among others, meeting these needs have been a source of concern, especially as recession bites the economy harder.
Instead of begging friends and relatives for funds, financial analysts urge parents to be prudent and take certain steps ahead of time in order to meet their increasing financial demands.
A financial adviser, Mr. Adeniyi Timothy, explains that it is very prudent when you try to shop early, though it may be too late to be saying this now as some schools resume next week, but try not to get caught out next term.
“With last minute shopping, it will be difficult to find discounts. Indeed this is probably the most expensive time to shop for the school year. If there are some items that your child doesn’t need right away or not for several weeks, then you might wish to wait for when unsold inventory is sold at a discount,” he said.
An educationist, Mr. Adebisi Arogundade, advises parents to ensure they send their wards to schools they can afford only and not add sentiments to such decision.
He found that several parents with wards in private schools, and that are either out of job or witnessed pay slash, borrow fund from friends and relatives to pay fees when they can move the children to public schools.
“If you are struggling to meet your obligations, it is time to have that serious conversation about withdrawing your child from a particular school and enrolling them in a cheaper one. Be careful not to jeopardise your livelihood and retirement plans to pay exorbitant school fees at all cost. It will be worse for everyone if you go broke!” he added.
CUT EXCESS IN SCHOOL BUDGET, GO THROUGH SCHOOL LIST AGAIN
School supply lists can be quite daunting. Go through the list critically to know if your child needs every single item on the list. Also check to see what your child brought home at the end of last session to see if there are any that can be used for the new term.
Make an inventory of what you have actually bought. Keep a list and give one to your children as they leave for school; they should be accountable for their belongings and at the end of the term, should be expected to bring them back home largely intact.
PREPARE A BUDGET
Most people cannot afford to buy every single thing on the school list. Set out a budget for school supplies including school books, lunch, bus, uniforms, and allowance and so on. Shop with your list, prioritise and stick to it.
Going through the school list with your child is an opportunity to teach some valuable money lessons. For example, there may be standard trainers that the school recommends for sport exercises, which will be compared with the much more fashionable high-end trainers that they would rather have; this provides strong lessons in costs, prioritising and budgeting. It is a good idea to go along with them for some of the shopping trips.
THE BOOK LIST
As children go through the same stages year-on-year, you can buy fairly used books in good condition. When handing in your book list to the bookshop, request that they check for available second hand alternatives in the correct edition listed on the list. You can also talk to friends and relatives of children who have just completed the year above, through that many parents can do book swaps. Therefore children must be taught to protect their books as they will be used by others after them.
BUY QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
It is tempting to buy a cheap school bag, lunch box or water bottle, but what may seem cost effective now will just fall apart in no time at all. It pays to spend more on good quality, study items that will last for a long time. Quality and durability are key, as opposed to being trendy or having the “latest” version.
Subscribing to the services of school bus has become very expensive with the increase in fuel costs. You can talk to neighbours, whose wards are in same school or around your children’s to join forces and take turns with you in taking children to school. This saves parents money on fuelling their cars, especially if the school is out of town.