Costs begin to spiral as children get older
BACK-to-school costs spiral as a child gets older -- as Larissa Anderson knows only too well.
The 38-year-old special needs assistant and her husband, David Anderson (42), a self-employed welder, fork out almost twice as much for their nine-year-old son's return to school than for his little sister.
The couple, who live in Killeven near Clones in Co Monaghan with their two children Finn (9) and Ruby (5), have had to budget carefully this summer.
Finn's uniform is more expensive than senior infant Ruby.
Finn is going into fourth class so he needs the royal blue school jumper, which is only on sale in the local shop for €20.
Ruby's uniform -- a navy tracksuit bottoms and navy jumper with white polo T-shirt -- can be bought in supermarkets such as Dunnes or Tesco.
Larissa opted for Dunnes and paid €34 for two sets of clothes before forking out €40 for comfortable footwear. Her crayons and copy books are also supplied in school, making her bills cheaper.
"We're fortunate enough that the book bills came at the end of May or early June and we have a book rental scheme in the school (St Tiarnach's). It's €65 per child per year, it's a great help that the scheme is there and that the bill has to be paid before the end of the year," said Larissa.
She pointed out that there were lots of "hidden costs" with the return to school such as the expense of new pencil cases, lunch boxes, water bottles and swimming lessons for the new term that may not be budgeted for.
"It's very hard on families. I've seen a huge drop in my wages and we don't qualify for any allowances so I think it's definitely hard on middle-income families."
Larissa knows larger families that "dread" September coming because of the high cost. "I don't really dread it because I am organised. I have to be. Over the past three or four weeks, I spread the cost over the month."