Planning & Budgeting
HOW SOON SHOULD BUDGETING BEGIN?
For parents with children who will attend school for the first time as well as those who will start a new grade in the new school term, budgeting should begin at least two to three months prior to the new term or as soon as the last term ends.
The reason for this is, everything the child needs to start school will take money. Parents have to spend some time to analyze their financial situation, so as to determine where to source the funds to finance these needs or where to source the items themselves, so as to minimize expenses, and therefore save.
HOW WILL PARENTS & CAREGIVERS KNOW WHAT TO PLAN AND BUDGET FOR?
- Normally, when a child registers for a new school, the parent is normally supplied with a booklist as well as a list of other needed supplies, including the style (fabric type and colour) and accessories needed for the school uniform, for example, ties, belts, badges, etc; gears for physical education. Also, parents are informed of the amount to be paid for school fees as well as the due date and where to pay it.
- Notation is usually made on these lists of what is available at the school, on sale, on rental, or at no cost to the parent. Parents are encouraged to develop a close relationship with the school’s Guidance Counselor or Principal, and to ask a lot of questions, especially when things are not expressly stated or outlined in any document provided by the child’s school.
- Usually, if the parent expresses any difficulty meeting any of the child’s school expenses, school officials will offer advice as to what avenues are available to them to ease their financial burdens, whether by the school itself or by the government.
- The Bible says, “...many advisors make victory sure...” Parents are therefore further encouraged to seek advice from other parents they know, whose child attends/ed that same school or are in a similar grade at another school. This may result in a further benefit, as they may be able to access some second hand books and supplies from these individuals.
Important Back to School Expenses Parents Should Consider
Having conducted their research, parents must sit down and write a list of all known expenses. It is also important to set aside some funds for unforeseen needs, so as to offset any expense that may arise during the year, that were not considered in the original budget plan. Items must also be prioritized on a need and not want basis.
IMPORTANT EXPENSES TO CONSIDER PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER:
- School Fees
- School Supplies
- Text Books
- Pencils, pens, notebooks and papers, bags, folders
- Uniforms and other apparel, including shoes, socks, clips, ribbons, belts, badges, sports gears, etc.
- Medical Examinations.
DAILY BACK-TO SCHOOL EXPENSES INCLUDE:
- Meals – lunch and snacks
- Field Trips
- Extra Lessons
- Medical protection
- School supplies (items not noted on the booklist, maybe overlooked by parents or teachers)
Tips on Minimizing Back-to School Expenses
If you are faced with difficulties in paying fees, you can apply for financial assistance under the Government’s Cost Sharing program. Here is how it works:
- Inform the school’s Principal or Guidance Counselor of your inability to pay.
- You will be issued a form made available by The Ministry of Education. Fill out the form, stating your income and expenditure.
- When completed, the form must be taken to a Justice of the Peace or Pastor to be signed.
- Return the form to the school, and if you are employed, take a letter from your employer, stating how much you earn.
- The school will then forward the application to the Ministry of Education on your behalf, and will update you on its progress and final outcome.
- At the University level, students may qualify for scholarships or bursaries. Information on such opportunities can be accessed from the institution’s Administration Department or its Website.
CAUTION: Beware of scholarship SCAMS!!!
School Textbooks and Other Supplies
- Text Books
- Utilize the school’s book rental scheme.
- Source second books from family and friends, as well as from stores set up for this specific purpose.
- Find out if there are any arranged book exchange programs or book drives in your community, church or child’s school. If there aren’t, arrange one!
- Utilize the Consumer Affairs Commission’s annual School Textbook Survey results to assist you in ascertaining where the cheapest books are available in your parish or town. Be a wise and informed consumer and practice good Comparative Shopping..
- When books are purchased, ensure that they are wrapped, kept in good condition and that no permanent marks are made in them. This way, you can sell or exchange them next term, thus reducing next year’s back to school expenses.
- Uniforms & other apparel
- Some schools make ready-made uniforms available on sale to their students. This may prove less expensive than buying the fabric and accessories and having the garments made by a professional dressmaker. Compare the cost of both ventures and choose the most inexpensive option.