With the school year now over, it’s a good idea to start planning and try and spread the cost of going back to school over the summer.
Step 1. Cut the costs
• Avail of the school’s Book Rental Scheme or other supports available under the School Books Grant Scheme.
• Check if the school runs a second-hand book and uniform sale.
• Ask friends and family if they have any of the books on the reading list or organise your own book and uniform exchange with friends.
• Ask your local book-shop if they offer instalment plans and pay for the cost of books over the summer weeks.
• Copybooks, pens and pencils can all be cheaper if bought in large quantities – will a friend split the costs with you if you buy a lot together?
• Re-use stationery items such as folders, files and pockets.
• Watch the shops for special promotions on uniforms. Some may offer discounts if you buy early in the summer.
• Shop around for generic uniform items like shirts, t-shirts, trousers and skirts in local chain stores
• Check on other costs that come up over the year for things like art and craft, photocopying, school trips etc and plan for them.
Step 2. Make out a budget
• List the costs using our budget guide (below).
• Check if you qualify for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.
• Subtract it from the total cost to find out the balance needed.
Step 3. Plan to meet the balance
• Work out how many weeks are left until September and how much you will need to save each week to cover the cost
• Can you afford to cover the costs from your income? If not, look at your budget again and see if you can reduce the costs further.
• If you have to borrow, think about whether you can afford the repayments, make sure to get the best rate (APR), and only borrow what you need from registered money lenders.
• If you are worried about money or debts, call the MABS Helpline on 0761-072000.