school fees

Schools fees on the rise as tech bites

Schools fees are on the rise and it's technology costs that are behind it. Here's what parents can do to budget and prepare for what's to come.

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School fees are going up and it’s not inflation that’s causing it, despite what your latest letter from the principal might tell you.

New research from Commonwealth Bank reveals demands for latest technology such as ipads and laptops is behind as much as a 43 per cent jump in school fees this year.

As a parent who’s eldest is going to school for the first time this year, the added cost of technology is just something that I, like millions of other parents, just have to budget for.

Problem is that tech costs are all part of an estimated $829 that most Australian parents will spend per child this year on things like new text books, stationary, school shoes and uniforms.

A survey by CBA found that despite 56 per cent of Australian parents with kids aged five -17 years old saying they were worried about the cost of back-to-school purchases this year, almost half (49 per cent) said they didn’t have a plan or budget, with only a third (31 per cent) regularly put money aside for these new year expenses.

Laptops for all

A key driver of this price hike is the growing demand for technology, with 50 per cent of parents spending more on technology items, such as laptops and tablets, this year compared with 2017.

The cost of technology purchases per family totalled $269, coming in much higher than uniform purchases at $182, text books $127, school shoes $103 and stationary $91, according to CBA research.

The impact of technology costs isn’t just felt by families with older kids.

One third of parents with younger kids, aged five to seven, have increased how much they will spend on technology this year, while almost two thirds of families with older kids said their technology spend would increase.

 After Pay easing the load

Two-in-five Australian families are looking to take the sting out of back-to-school costs by taking advantage of buy now, pay later services such as After Pay and Zip Pay (29%), with others buying second-hand (42%) or using hand-me-downs (60%).

But most (80 per cent) resort to the sales to save money on back-to-school purchases.

 Spending doesn’t stop at the school gates

There’s no financial respite for parents when kids go back to school, with families hit with a $662 million bill for extra-curricular activities each month, including $255 million spent on sports, followed by $174 million spent on trips/camps, $129 million on music/dance lessons and $103 million on tutoring.

 Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager, Sian Lewis, is among those encouraging families to set a budget early for expenses to avoid the back-to-school bill shock.

“The back-to-school bill can come as a shock to many parents, particularly after the expensive summer break. But there’s still time to get on top of your spending. Set a budget early and track your spending through your mobile banking app, opt for lower cost items in the sales or source second hand, and seek out hand-me-downs or borrowed items from friends and family.”

Tips on how to avoid back-to-school bill shock:  

  • Set your back to school budget early and track your spending in real-time through banking apps
  • Start your own sharing economy Facebook page and invite other school parents to post their second hand items
  • Cut costs by seeking out those summer sales bargains, buy second-hand or recycle items using hand-me-downs or borrowing from friends and family
  • Plan out the costs of extra-curricular activities now to help you stay on top of your bills to make the year ahead easier.
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