Back to School Financial Management: 4 Steps for Parents

At this time, you have purchased your school-going children their new textbooks for the next year (or possibly secondhand since it is less expensive) as well as their new outfits – my, haven’t they gotten bigger? And now you’re asking how will you pay for the rest of this year’s ancillary expenses.

While it’s lovely to have our kids back in school, the associated costs can bring financial worries for parents. If your expenditure is higher than your income, you only have two options: earn more money or spend less of what you have. While earning more isn’t always possible, we have four tips that might help you save some cash.


It is really important that you now plan your finances and often. My recommendation is that you should sit down and for a couple of hours every month. Like a road map, you will need to know where you are going and anticipate problems along the way. So write down all the current expenditure for the children (transport costs, lunches, additional books, school trips, sports equipment, extracurricular hobbies, pocket money). You should also think about how you can save money in other areas – such as lunches and after-school activities.

Review every cost and consider if there’s a more affordable option, like carpooling. For lunch allowances, some parents give their child up to €10 daily. A packed lunch can be prepared for less than €3 each day which would save over €1,200 annually!


As a rule of thumb, if you send your child to fee-paying schools, you will need to find €240,000 by the time they finish third level education to cover everything–just tuition for third level costing up to €42,000. Before beginning, you need to have a plan. You could start by saving the Child Benefit (currently €140 per month per child) into a Regular Saver account – where you can save between €100 and €1,000 for 12 regular months with 0.85% interest rate). Once a lump sum has accrued, invest elsewhere for a greater return on your money..

If you want to make more complex investments, always seek professional and independent advice. Even if you only invest €250 a month from when your child is 5 years old until they turn 18, at 3% growth per year, you will have accrued c. €42,000 – which covers the cost of third level education in Ireland.


Some parents, in order to receive their Child Benefit, must borrow money for their children’s educational expenditures each year. Shop around – credit unions and An Post Money typically have the lowest rates at c. 5.9%. Check with your local credit union office because they are all independent but may have low interest rates especially if you take out an education loan. An Post Money is now available online. For credit unions, you have to be a member for at least one month and would normally need to lodge 2.5% of the amount you are looking for into a Credit Union share account to qualify for a loan. The financial institutions on the high street are next, and as they know you’ll be much more likely to approve. Borrow only for a year – school expenses are recurring every year. Unauthorised moneylenders should be avoided at all costs, owing up to 200% or more in interest.


Life and disability insurance should all be seriously considered, as well as income protection in case one or both parents are unable to work. In general, a life policy for a specific period to match the conclusion of your child’s education should be looked at again. This pays out a lump sum if you die and is rather inexpensive for a married couple at age 30. This cover is based on 10 times your net annual income, minus any Death In Service benefits (which you should check with your employer about), until your youngest child completes their 3rd level education.
I can tell you from experience that childhood goes by in a flash. It seems like only yesterday that I was taking my youngest to play school for the first time, and now she’s 2 years away from starting college. So make sure to enjoy every moment!
Start a regular savings plan by speaking with one of us at Riordan Financial today.