Thursday 22 February 2018

Most parents forced to begin saving for spiraling back-to-school costs in June


Patrick Kelleher

Spiralling back-to-school costs are leading worried parents to start preparing for their child's return to school before they even start their holidays.

Almost half of parents start preparations for the start of the new term as early as May or June, according to a survey carried out by Bord Gais Energy.

The report, which surveyed 185 families, also revealed some of the biggest expenses for parents ahead of the new school year.

New runners are bought by 66pc of parents for their children before they go back to school, while 57pc get a new pencil case and 70pc a new school bag. More than half of pupils get a new haircut before returning to school.

Meanwhile, a quarter of parents are up before 7am to get their children out to school.

The report also said that children are highly likely to take part in after-school activities, with 84pc saying their children take part in some kind of activity outside of school hours.

The most popular of these was swimming, with 33pc making it their activity of choice at the end of the school day.

Following swimming was Gaelic football (30pc), soccer (24pc), hurling (22pc) and speech and drama (19pc).

With the school year's return just around the corner, September continues to be a huge financial burden for cash-strapped parents.

A Credit Union survey found that the cost of returning to school negatively affects 26pc of household bill payments and 13pc of parents said they would have to sacrifice buying food for the family to foot the bill.

School uniforms are one of the biggest expenses for parents. The survey found that the cost was an average of €145 per primary school child, and €234 per secondary school child.

With an average debt of €357, 31pc of parents borrow money to cover back-to-school costs.

Annemarie Wade of said that parents are preparing for the school year earlier because of the rising cost.

"Many will start their shopping early to try and spread out some of the costs so as not to have such a big spend at the end of August," she told the Herald.

"The biggest challenge for parents can be all the costs coming together, along with the spend on extra curricular activities.

"It's particularly expensive for those with a child starting first year in secondary, with all the new uniform costs and a significant amount of school books to be bought - you wouldn't be long seeing €600 to €700 disappear," she added.

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