Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Budgeting helps parents cope with extra costs

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Budget Advisor Pearl Pavitt.
Budget Advisor Pearl Pavitt.

The rising cost of getting Rotorua students ready for school can lead to families forking out hundreds of dollars per child, but there are ways to make it less stressful, a local budget adviser says.

Rotorua Budget Advisory Service's Pearl Pavitt said they always gave their clients the same advice when it came to back to school costs.

"Whenever we have a parent come in to see us we tell them the same events happen every year - Christmas, your child's birthday and the start of school. Because we know these costs are coming up, there is no reason you shouldn't be able to put some money aside for them each week.

"By saving a little bit throughout the year, the stress of costs like those encountered at the start of a school year is reduced."

She said people had to recognise budgeting was not a quick fix.

"If you are on a three-month budget to get out of debt, but then go back to the way you were handling money before, that is not going to solve anything.

"People who change their lifestyle have prolonged success with managing their finances."

Rotorua mum Mary Hamill said a saving of even a few dollars contributed to lowering the pressure of back to school costs.

"School costs come around every year so it is good to budget well ahead to avoid the stress of having to buy everything at once. It's just my son and I so we do need to be prepared well in advance.

"My son is starting Year 8 at John Paul College this year so I have been looking through op-shops and the school's secondhand uniform store for top-ups to his uniform.

"When you see a polo shirt costs $26 new but you can pick up five for $5 each in good second-hand condition, why would you not take advantage of that?"

Ms Hamill said she also set up an automatic payment to the school account into which she made regular payments.

"By doing that you are keeping the pressure of school fees down and you're not having to pay one big lump sum."

Ms Hamill said she even went as far as comparing stationery prices between different stores.

"It's a bit pedantic I'll admit, but it can end up saving you quite a bit when all the exercise books and everything else is added up.

"It's all about taking opportunities when you get them and keeping an ear out."

KidsCan sees firsthand the struggle and stress felt by low income families trying to meet mounting back to school costs.

The charity, that helps provide food, clothing and basic healthcare in schools for disadvantaged children, will be supporting four new schools in the Bay of Plenty region, including Rotorua's Selwyn Primary School.

KidsCan chief executive and founder Julie Chapman said the community had a responsibility to "ensure our children can thrive and have the chance to grow into contributing members of society".

"Our future productivity depends on these children making the most of their educational opportunities."

Meanwhile, The Warehouse has launched a school clothing range which allows customers to purchase the core back to school items for a total price of $36. This range includes a Basics backpack at $5, a T-shirt for $4, a sweatshirt at $6, shorts or leggings at $6 and a pair of sandals at $15.

General manager Trisha Whiting said they knew getting children back to school was an expensive time of year for families.

"We designed this package to be affordable, stylish and made to last the entire summer autumn season, or until kids inevitably grow out of it," Ms Whiting said.

"We've worked hard to deliver all the basic back to school products that our customers need to buy."

2016 Term Dates:
- Term 1: Starts between Monday, February 1, and Friday, February 5, ends Friday, April 15.
- Term 2: Starts Monday, May 2, ends Friday, July 8.
- Term 3: Starts Monday, July 25, ends Friday, September 23.
- Term 4: Starts Monday, October 10, ends no later than Friday, December 16, for secondary and composite schools, ends no later than Tuesday, December 20, for primary and intermediate schools

- Rotorua Daily Post

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