Blended learning – a combination of in-person and online learning – requires investing in an up-to-date computer (desktop or laptop) or mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Speakers, earphones or headphones are also needed to improve audio quality, while a webcam supports activities that require video feedback. A stable internet connection and sufficient data increase costs.
If your child is going through a growth spurt, additional uniforms may be needed. Mums and dads may also be under pressure to invest in extra tuition as learners struggle to catch up on interrupted studies. Children may also experience anxiety and mental health issues that may require the services of a counselor or psychologist.
If conditions return to relative normality, parents will once again have to factor in the costs of social events and school trips.
According to Stats SA, tuition fees increased by 4.1% in 2021, compared to 6.4% in 2020. Primary and secondary tuition fees increased by 2.5% and 4.3% respectively in 2021 (compared to 7.3% and 7.6% in 2020).
While many parents will have benefited from a temporary reprieve, with annual increases in 2021 being the lowest in 30 years, education remains extremely expensive. Add the unexpected costs and parents could struggle to keep up.
A handy online source of personal finance articles, advises you to review your budget or set one up if you don’t already have one. Figure out what’s most valuable to you, like your child’s education and paying off debt, and direct your spending toward those items. Go through your bank statements and look for opportunities to reduce or eliminate spending.
I also recommend building up an emergency savings fund to act as a buffer. If you are already repaying debts, building up savings will require careful management. Rather save less than create more debt.
It makes sense to have more than one source of income, given the risk of losing one’s job in the current economic climate. Known as the “side hustle”, this is usually done in the evening or on weekends. It is your responsibility to declare this income to Sars, and to ensure that you save enough funds to pay any additional tax. Keep records of all expenses incurred in producing your freelance or outsourced income.
- Find out more about the taxation relating to your side hustle.
Here are some other tips for saving on school expenses:
Buy used items: Discover uniforms and sports equipment in your school shop and on online sites.
Scholarships: If your child is doing very well in sports or academically, ask about scholarships.
Life insurance: If you were to become disabled or suffer from a debilitating disease, or even die, your child’s education would be seriously affected. Consider life insurance or an education protection policy, as well as critical illness and disability coverage. These will ensure the continuity of your child’s education if you are no longer able to provide funding.
It’s never too early to start saving for your child’s education. Even a small amount set aside each month will grow over time as compound interest plays its part.
Education savings policies are offered by most financial service providers. Another option is mutual funds, which provide easy and profitable access to the equity market through a variety of stocks. Tax-Free Savings Accounts are also worth considering. The investment is opened in your child’s name and any interest, dividends or capital gains will be tax exempt. It also gives you flexibility because you don’t have to commit to future contributions.
Do your homework and weigh your options to determine what best suits your family’s financial needs. If you need advice on how to make sure your child’s education costs are covered, it’s worth talking to a trusted financial adviser.
If you were lucky enough to have received an end-of-year bonus, or if you are expecting a tax refund, consider allocating this windfall to your child’s studies.
Shafeeka Anthony, Marketing Manager of JustMoney.co.za.