With families preparing their school-age kids for back-to-school, what new challenges does this bring during the COVID-19 crisis? This is likely everyone’s first experience going back-to-school during a global pandemic, what can families expect this year?
Between uniforms, lunches, stationary, backpacks, and so on, the average Aussie parent spends $476 per year on back to school expenses. How is this changing during COVID-19?
The key this year, as in past years, is to plan ahead. Keeping an eye on your budget and your financial needs in advance is the best way to avoid the dreaded last-minute scramble. With so many Aussies also dealing with unexpected unemployment and reduced income, it’s more important than ever to prepare for back-to-school expenses in the age of COVID-19.
Changes to This Years School Budget
Because of the global pandemic, many school systems in different parts of the country are adjusting their strategy for educating students. While each system has their own way of addressing these challenges, many common changes include:
- Hybrid learning: Most schools are implementing some form of hybrid learning with both in-person and online classes. This means students will rely on technology more than ever before.
- Dedicated study space: Because students will be doing more learning from home, they’ll need a dedicated space at home to focus on their studies.
- Meal planning: Another important thing to keep in mind is that more students will be eating meals from home instead of at school.
- Increased financial stress: Finally, many families are experiencing greater financial stress due to reduced income, sudden unemployment, and the impending financial crisis.
With all of these changes in mind, how do you prepare for the back-to-school season? These tips below are designed to ease this transition, no matter what this back-to-school time means in your area.
1. Check Your Local School System
To start, make sure you’re up-to-date about what your school system is planning in the upcoming months. While some are opting for a 100% in-person approach, beware that this might not last long-term. There’s a lot of fear that returning to the classroom might only be temporary, so you’ll need to prepare just in case a hybrid model is used at a later date.
If your school is going online with learning, check with officials about the best way to prepare. They likely will be the best guide for learning exactly what your student needs to succeed during the school year, whether they’ll need a computer or another device.
2. Create a List of Needs
It’s easy to fall into a trap of purchasing more wants than needs during the school season. There are ways to save if your student is learning online vs. in-person. For example, you’ll need fewer uniforms or clothing, and there might not be any need for a new backpack.
Look for these easy ways to save and focus on what you really need. This list might look different. You might need to improve your wireless connection or purchase a new laptop for your student. However, you can likely cut back on clothing, stationary, and a backpack. Remember these things can always be purchased at a later date.
3. Shop Smart with Technology
The most expensive purchase many parents will need to make to adapt to back-to-school in the age of COVID-19 is technology. More students will need laptops, tablets, or smartphones than ever before to take part in virtual school.
However, you don’t have to pay full price for a top tier electronic when there are alternatives. A refurbished or used model likely works just as well, especially since the student won’t need to run any complicated programs. Don’t be afraid to use coupons and discount sites to find the right tech tools.
4. Utilize Free Resources
There are a lot of free resources available for students to use right now. This includes free online courses, online tutoring, and even government-sponsored services.
Many schools are providing free lunches for students even if they’re not physically in the classroom. Local libraries might have free ebooks, learning tools, and digital programs. Take advantage of all the freebies you can find to lower back-to-school costs this year.
Are You Ready for the Back To School Expenses This Year?
During COVID-19, most parents aren’t really sure where this school year is heading. With many schools opting for digital learning or a hybrid model, the only certainty is that change is a must. Your back-to-school budget might look different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare in advance.
Remote learning in the age of COVID-19 is undoubtedly a challenge, especially for parents who already feel trapped within their budget. There are more miscellaneous back to school expenses like technology, tutoring, and home-cooked meals than ever before. Still, you can keep these costs from spiraling beyond your means.
If you need help creating a budget during COVID-19, you’re not in this alone. The experts at Debt Busters have a decade of experience helping Aussies through all types of financial challenges. Contact our team to start your journey today.