Budgeting For a Child’s School Expenses

by Edmund Lao, RFP

The month of June has come already. This only means two things: that summer is gone and time for students to go back to school.
Aside from tuition fees which escalate yearly, every parent has to shell out more money for additional school expenses. Most of the times, tuition fees cost less than the additional expenses for the students and the sad fact is that these kinds of expenses are hardly noticed.
Enumerated below are the additional expenses that are incurred per student.
1.     Allowance for transportation
2.     Allowance for food/snack
3.     Cost of hiring a tutor
4.     Field trips
5.     Class projects
6.     Cost of Yaya

Let us take the cost of transportation as an example. In my child’s school (which was my alma mater when I was a student), the mode of transportation is tricycle. The cost for round trip is Php 50 per day.. In a month, this is equivalent to Php 250 a week. By computing it on a per semester basis, it is Php 5000. 
Back To School !!! (165920274)
Back To School, Wikimedia Commons
For food/snack allowance, let us assume the student takes a light merienda (for example siomai which is around Php 20), the estimated espense will be Php 2000 per semester.
Next is the cost of tutor. An elementary tutor charges around Php 3000 per month (that is the cost for a tutor with a minimum of 20 students in a class). This translates to Php 15000 per semester
Let us not forget the Yaya, whose job is to fetch the children from school.  Nowadays, the salary of is around  Php 4000, which is equal to Php 20,000 per semester.
These above-mentioned costs already amounted to Php 42,000. There are still other costs that can contribute more.
Realizing the extra costs of a child’s school expenses, budgeting for it is a necessity, in order to free up money for future needs. Below are some ideas:
1.    Encourage the child to bring baon to the school. When I was a student, I always bring baon for recess time and  our mother brings lunch to school. Even when I reached high school, I already had the habitof bringing lunch. Not only is it cheaper, it is a lot healthier as well compared to buying from restaurants.
2.     If the home is just near the school, try walking home. This not only saves transportation money, but serves as exercise too. When I was in high school, I walk home with my best friend (who belongs to a rich family). That is also an opportunity to get to know my friend as we engage in a conversation while walking.
3.     Encourage children to form study groups. During our  elementary days, I bonded with honor students and join their study group during during lunch break. Not only did we became barkadas. We learned from each other and luckily, I became honor students like them without the aid of a tutor.
4.     In buying other things needed in school, it pays to shop specially in Divisoria, the perfect haven for those looking for great deals. 
5.     For textbooks, it is a good idea to borrow from the predecessors. Nowadays, text books are replaced by work books.  Publishers are making good business . In my younger years, the text books I used were passed on until the fourth sibling.  Hopefully, schools should try to find ways to have work books reusable.
6.     Although I have not practiced this, I suggest homeschooling (as experienced by my colleagues).  This mode saves a lot from transportation and snack costs.  The parent should have time to teach their child. 
7.     When shopping for school items, it is better to shop before enrollment period or during summer vacation. That way, one avoids rush shopping and buying during that season allows one to get more value for money.    
8.     Reuse things from the previous school year. As long as the items such as bags, shoes, etc are still I good condition, there is no reason to buy a new set. A good idea is to befriend someone from a higher year so that he may pass on some things that may be useful. When I was in high school, my books came from a friend who is one year my senior. Luckily he’s an only child. Naturally, he passed on to me his text books which were used by my three siblings.
Providing for a child’s education need not be stressful as long as one finds creative ways to curb down the cost but not the value. 
Edmund Lao is a Registered Financial Planner and a columnist for Business Mirror. He is also in the forefront of financial literacy for Filipinos.

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