Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Back to School Costs

Two down. Two to go.

Irish Parenting Bloggers are at it again.  This time we are “marching” about back to school and the inevitable costs involved.  Today it is my turn.

 “Wait till they start secondary school.” 

I have heard this more than once over the last month since Back to School preparations 
began in earnest.

At the moment two of our four boys attend the local Gaelscoil and before summer holidays even commenced, booklists plus details of school requisites were sent home in school bags.

Hit with it straight away.

School books were bought on line the first week of July when Child Benefit came through.  I bought the same books our oldest used for the five and a half year old as they use workbooks in the school, therefore cannot be passed down.  The cost of that list came to €123.  This included delivery and having the books covered. 

I still had to buy bits and pieces like colouring pencils, scrapbooks, erasers, glue sticks and an art folder.

The school requisites, by the way, amounts to €131.

They needed school bags and these were €20 each.  Yes, I could have gotten cheaper but they would have been smaller therefore not suitable.  School bags have an annoying habit of remaining perfectly intact body wise, but not bottom wise.  I could see the ground through the threadbare ends of theirs.

Last year I made the decision to drive the boys to school.  Their bus tickets would have set me back €200.  This went instead towards their books.  The bus does not stop at or near our house and I would have to drive them to the bus stop which seemed to defeat the purpose.  Also that collection point does not have anywhere to park safely and is on a main and busy road. 

Not worth it. 

I also noticed last year, instead of keeping the children inside the bus until the school gate opened, they were all released and left to their own devices.

A decision that was already made became cemented.  

Our boys wear a crested jumper and tracksuit top.  These are compulsory as is the case in many schools.  Both of these can set you back €23 per item.

I made a few savings in this area.  The joys of hand me downs and an older cousin who attended the same school.

I needed to buy two trousers for Oldest Boy.  I always spend extra on trousers for the very reason they have to be durable in order to survive inevitable wear and tear to be passed along the next year.  I am also strict about changing their uniform as soon as they come home from school in the evenings.

Footwear next.  Nothing wrong with checking out department stores for footwear over a well-known brand name.  I managed to save €139 this way.  One thing bugged me greatly however; I thought the selection of girl’s shoes was by far superior to the health board selection on offer for the boys. 

Do your homework first and check prices on line.  I did this for both Dunnes Stores and Marks and Spencer.  Prices start at €12.

My one real bargain was spotting a John Rocha raincoat for Oldest Boy, reduced from a shocking original price of €48 down to under €15.

That’s the usual stuff dealt with.  How about the hidden extras?

Voluntary contributions for one.  I have heard parents say they feel guilted and pressured into paying.  At present ours is €7 for the two boys each week.

I, hand on heart, don’t mind paying this.  I am not available at the moment to participate in flag days for the school.  Nor am I free in the morning to assist with extra reading practice in the school so, for me, this is my way of contributing.  When I can.

Birthday parties.  Both a delight and a curse.  Oldest Boy has been known to receive up to ten invites for the month of October alone.  I generally put ten euros into an envelope for the birthday boy or girl. 

Call me mad but I feel birthday parties are an important part of school so I like my boys to go to them and extend the invitation when it’s their turn.

This year our third son will partake of the ECCE free preschool year which will garner him 15 hours of fun a week. I still have to drive him there, however, and collect him.

What about after school activities?  Maybe your child/children are musically inclined.  This brings us nicely to renting/buying musical instruments plus the paying for lessons.

Oldest Boy goes swimming with the school in November and this usually extends to five sessions.  

School trips are another hidden cost.

We have a First Holy Communicant next May.  Others will be celebrating their Confirmation. 

Before you know it, summer is upon us again and the kids come home from school with flyers for summer camps that take place; sports, drama, swimming, adventure camps. 

Our boys signed up for one such camp this August.  €110 euros for Monday through to Friday mornings, 10am till 1pm. 

What’s that you say?  Wait till they go to college?

I’d rather not, thanks all the same.  I have enough to be getting on with there, don’t you think?

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