How to cut back on back-to-school expenses


Posted at May 12 2014 10:29 AM | Updated as of May 13 2014 03:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines - It’s that time of year when parents are trekking back to school to pay for tuition. From here, the days leading up to the opening of a new school year become even more vexing, as seemingly small school-related bills can pile up unnoticed and bust your budget.

On top of tuition fees, parents need to cough up money for all sorts of fees such as miscellaneous expenses, uniforms, books, school supplies, school bus expenses, and even dormitory fees.

Judicious planning is always a parent’s best weapon to combat school opening budget woes. Having a sinking fund that you can add to during the year, or saving your bonuses for school expenses are practical ways to prepare for school related expenses.

Here are a few money-saving tips to help you minimize expenses this school year:


Most schools allow parents to make tuition payments throughout the school year, with payments due either monthly, quarterly, or per semester. Often, the totals will be higher if you make monthly payments rather than a yearly payment. Make the best choice depending on your available cash and income stream.

Discounts add up. Some schools offer early registrants a discount which you might want to avail of. Conversely, keep an eye on penalties that some schools impose among late registrants or for other reasons.


Resist the urge to buy too many sets of uniforms for your kid, keeping in mind that he or she is still growing up and may outgrow clothes quickly. While most parents purchase new uniforms at the beginning of the school year, it is more logical to buy new ones when your child actually needs it, which may happen in the middle of the school year. The same rule holds for shoes, PE uniforms, other wearables, and even school bags. Get them when you need them, instead of doing so at the opening of each school year.

Hand-me-down uniforms are a great expense saver. Ask a friend whose child may have outgrown his uniforms to pass on some to your child. The friend may actually welcome the chance to free their closets of clutter.

School supplies

Pool school supplies from the past school year and see which ones can be reused instead of heading straight for the bookstore to get whatever is on the school supplies list. Binders, plastic envelopes, rulers, etc. from the previous school years last many years and can and should be reused.

Compare prices of school supplies. The prices of notebooks and paper vary widely, so make sure you compare prices. There is no need to get the most expensive bond paper or notebook brands. Resist your kids’ request to buy supplies that bear designs of his or her favorite mascots or cartoon characters as well, since these do nothing more than bring up prices.


Use second-hand books to save money. Some schools actually facilitate the sale of used textbooks, while many parents are on the lookout for possible buyers of their children’s used books. Your savings will be considerable if you get this.

E-books are always less pricey than printed books. If this is an alternative available to your child, opt for the e-version if the school and the teachers are supportive.


Before signing up for school bus services, look around for car pool partners among your co-parents and neighbors whose children go to the same school. By sharing your car with others, you can enjoy far more savings than simply availing of a school bus service.

If car pool is not an option, consider the best payment terms for school bus services. Sometimes, paying once for the entire semester or full year will earn you a discount which you can then allocate for some other school-related expense.


Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.

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