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The Rising Cost of Going Back to School

All good things must come to an end, and for children, that includes the school holidays. But when it comes to preparing your children for the return to school, it can be surprising just how quickly the costs add up. For many parents, that means they’re already feeling the strain before the school year has even begun.

Schools hand out their list of essential equipment and uniform guidelines and are seemingly oblivious to just how much all that can cost. In many cases there is only a single supplier parents can buy the school uniform from, and inevitably, that monopoly increases the cost.

There are also all the other bits and pieces parents need to think of, from the sports kits and musical instruments to the increasingly common requirement for children to have their own tablet. Then there are all the usual school books and stationery that hit parents’ finances hard.

How much do parents spend on average?
A survey in the UK of the parents of 3,000 primary, secondary and college students shed some light on the average cost of those back to school essentials. It found that:
  • 43 percent of the respondents spend more than £50 on school uniform;
  • 38 percent had purchased new technology for their children;
  • The overall cost of going back to school increased in line with the child’s age;
  • The average cost of going back to school was £239.
Can you bring the costs down?
As with any essential expenditure, there are still savings that can be made. While it may be difficult to reduce the cost of some parts of the school uniform, there are some strategies you can use to reduce the price of other items. The online lender Wonga SA produced a list of tips parents can follow to bring the costs down.

Arguably the best way to reduce the cost of those back-to-school essentials is to plan the timing of purchases carefully. As always, prices rise with demand. That means you’ll pay more for your back-to-school shopping at the end of the summer holidays. Instead, think about buying the bits you can halfway through the year.
The lifetime cost of schooling
A study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research has looked at the cost of schooling as a whole from the child reaching school age to the age of 21. It found that the cost of raising a child from birth was £232,000. Of that, an estimated £74,430 is spent on a child’s education if they attend a state school.

Research by the teacher’s union EIS found that this expense was putting some parents under clear financial strain, with 72 percent of teachers reporting an increase in the number of children coming to school without essential items such as school bags, PE equipment and stationery. While schools are doing what they can to help with free school meals, it’s clear that these days, an education does not come for free.

How much does it cost to send your child bag to school? Are they certain items that cost way over the odds? Please share your views in the comments below.
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