5 Ways to Manage Scary ‘Back to School’ Costs #wellnesswednesday

by Kieran Ward

Your financial wellness can take a serious hit in September when it’s time for the kids to go back to school. Indeed, the 2018/19 school year will see primary education costs reach all-time highs.

A recent survey by Zurich Life shines a light on the real costs of educating our children. Here are some of the average costs you can expect per child:

  • After school activities – €191 per child, C
  • Clothing  – €71
  • Footwear – €64
  • Transport – €71
  • School books – €88
  • School supplies – €52
  • Lunches  – €124
  • School trips – €48
  • Parents Association – €53
  • Voluntary Contribution –  €68

So. the cost of educating our children is €830 per child in primary school this year. 2 to 3 children and you can see this cost relly skyrocket.

Is there anything you can do to reduce or manage these costs?

Parents look to reduce these expenses; the average spend on school lunches in the 2017/2018 primary school year saw an increase from €110 to €124.

Packed lunches

The costs above are average figures. As such, the scale goes from very high to very low. When it comes to school lunches, however the survey found that 87% of children bring a packed lunch with them, and half of the parents surveyed spent €100 or less on school lunches.  In order to keep this cost low, always be prepared. Panic buying or having to dole out lunch money last minute will set you back.

Book Rental

The majority of primary school children (92%) are required to use hard copies of books. Primary schools offered a book rental scheme for 61% of children in 2017 and the majority of parents availed of this scheme. If you are not already aware of this in your children’s school, be sure to ask.


Even though it is subsidised for minors, public transport can add up if you – the adult- needs to accompany your child on the bus or train. Petrol is, of course, another outlay if you drive to school. Is it possible to walk?  Are your kids old enough to cycle, or can you get involved in a car-pool with neighbours or friends?

If you can, PLAN

Early planning is your best bet for easing the pain of back to school costs in September. And the way to do this is to set money aside each month in anticipation of these costs. In other words, to save.

The Zurich Cost of Education research found that 72% of parents have a savings account and save an average of €5,299 per year. 50%  said that they save to cover the costs of their children’s education. 25% of parents managing to save less than €500 in their savings account to date. No matter how small the amount is that you save, it is still better than nothing at all when it comes to paying out time in September.

Use child benefit to structure an education fund

A  long-term saving solution for children’s education is to structure your saving around your child allowance allocation. For one child this is €140 per month.  For 2 children its €280, and for 3 children it’s a rate of €420. If you saved the child benefit of €140 per month for five years from now from when your child was born, by the time they started school you could have built up savings of €8,705. Now, obviously saving the full amount of child allowance may not be an option. But what about putting a percentage aside? You could potentially be putting your child through education until their early-mid 20s! So, putting some money aside now to deal with peak costs such as switching to secondary school and – the big one – third level education, will pay dividends in the future.

Thank You!

To end with a bit of a chessey pun – Investing in Education is an Investment in the Future! Well doen to all the parents out there on the great job you are doing.  If you have any tips to add to this article, or would like to make a comment below, please feel free to do so.