5 Ways to take control of back-to-school surprises

24 January 2022 Liberty

The mad rush of going back to school always sweeps parents away in the new year. On the first day of school, it was all about stationary, books, uniforms, lunch packs and getting there on time.

Now you need to close the loop on all the other things you need to do to make the school year happen for your kids. We're talking about setting up debit orders for school fees, extra-curricular activities and excursions. All these moments of preparation for success seem fleeting and though we do this each year, the start of school has passed in a huff again and we felt like we were never ready.

Liberty Senior Investment Specialist, Sindi Mondi, says there are many other moments that you should prepare for this school year. She offers a handy list of things to consider in order to make a success of your child's 2022 school year:

1. Get organized
Looking at the school calendar, we all know that we need to plan for particular times of the year when key milestones take place or calendar activities come around like holidays, exams and special projects. Not being prepared can leave you feeling flustered and panicked with a poor experience in queue for both your child and you.

Action: Keep a planner of the school activities that happen during the year and make it visible, so your child takes part in navigating their year with you. This will assist in focusing your mind on what is important at any given moment and support your ability to plan ahead, so there is no need to get flustered by too many things firing off at once.

2. Save for the unknown inevitable
Education isn’t immune to inflationary costs, with every year getting more expensive due to the rise of school costs and educational advancements. According to Stats SA education inflation sits at 6.4%, which is higher than current inflation rate which is 5.5%. The smartest way to take control of being able to meet the demands of rising costs or unexpected costs, is by starting to put away small amounts of money in order for you to save a bigger amount over time.

Action: Start saving what you can as soon as possible and consider that there are a number of market related investment options available. The Stash tax-free investment accessed through the Stash App is one of these savings options and brings investment savings to your fingertips on your smartphone. Now you can invest from as little as R5 per day or anytime, earn interest and see your growth over time just at a press of a button - A handy lump sum for those rainy days.

3. Budget, budget, budget
It pays to know how much money you have to spend in the school year but it’s not always possible to look ahead and see the curve balls ahead which may derail your plans. When setting up a budget, involve your children so they are well aware of what the household can afford. That may help curb the expectations and helps the family to live within their means and not exceed the monthly budget.

Action: Have room for unexpected expenses on your budget as that ensures the essentials are not compromised. If you don’t spend that portion of the budget, put it towards your savings and even consider investing it in small rewards for your child/ren when they help you manage your budget well.

4. Don’t let fast-paced trends cost you
If you and your kids love to compare yourselves to peers and want to spend on the latest trends; be it cars, homes, clothes, toys or electronic devices, that pressure to compete by spending more money than you need to can be an easy mistake to make, financially.

Action: Take the pressure off by setting reasonable expectations with your family. Get to understand your needs vs wants. Take your time to search for reasonable alternatives and invest in meaningful items that won’t break the bank. For all the nice to have's, it may just be an exciting effort for your children to work and earn it or some kind of a reward for certain achievements like academic achievements.

5. Protect your child’s education
The year 2020 stamped the saying that "the future is uncertain". Having lived through 2020 and through the effects of it for two years now and counting, also drives our understanding that there are so many uncertainties that can impact on our ability to continually meet our children’s needs.

More so now we have learnt the value of having insurance. Insurance cover that speaks to passing on and sharing the risk with an Insurance company is necessary. Taking out appropriate risk cover to protect your children’s education is critical and a much-needed measure to ensure their journey is uninterrupted, consistent, and insured against life's unknowns that we cannot predict. "During the height of the pandemic, Liberty enhanced its Educator Benefit, to make provision for home-schooling as a feature add on, this is one example of the right insurance solution for education", says Mondi.

Action: Speak to a Financial Adviser about selecting appropriate insurance that will cover any potential gaps in your children’s education should you be unable to provide for their needs. Death, disability, loss of income, sickness is all but an immense risk to your family. Liberty's Lifestyle Protector provides you a suite of benefits that can be tailor made to your specific needs so that you can safeguard and provide for your children's bright future.

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