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Back-to-school money stress
Masanda Peter considers how the new school year should be prioritised over fun holidays.
The festive season is over and what a great time people had. The festive mood had its own highs, and shopping was one of them; shopping malls were packed. Full trolleys meant that spending was at its peak and consumers helped put a smile on some retailer’s faces. This happens every year, so not much is surprising with the familiarity of the scene.

Something I fail to understand is that come January (some people even call the month “JanWorry”), many people seem surprised that they have no money left in the month for back-to-school time. The schools fees, the school uniform, that January groceries (lunch boxes), petrol money: money that will at least manage to take you to the end of the month. January can be the longest month if one has not planned properly. We must not let our kids suffer in the process. When parents do not plan properly it affects the children as well. They are the ones who will be going to school missing half of the school uniform because mama or papa can only afford the full uniform at the end of the January. The seriousness of education and how much we value it will be communicated by parents to our children. They will see our actions make their own conclusions.

Responsibilities before entertainment

I remember a friend of mine saying to me once ”ukuba awunayo imali ye fees yabantwana ngo January uyafana nongakhange asebenze unyaka wonke, ufail(ile) sihlobo” (if you do not have money to pay school fees you are like someone who had not worked the whole year, you have failed my friend). Those words stuck to me and I vowed to always have money for school fees at the beginning of the year because it made sense especially if you have money to spend for “nice to haves” during the festive season.

The hidden benefits of planning ahead

To me this boils down to prioritising. Some people pay school fees and buy school uniforms the previous year already (which earns them a discount at some schools), so that when they spend in December they know that the important things are sorted – educational needs being one of them. This is sending a message to your children that education is important and should therefore be prioritised. If we as parents are not setting an example, how then do we expect the children to follow suit?

While spending money made the festive season a good time, certain households will not be able to afford to send children to school. It is our responsibility to take education seriously. I also think that we need to respect the teachers as well. This is their profession but we are sending children to school with half the school material but still expect them to come to the party 100%. What is the role of the parent, and are parents fulfilling their obligations?. These are the questions we need to ask ourselves and we need to set our priorities straight.

Read more by Masanda Peter

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Do you consider the costs of schooling when you budget for your festive period?

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