Families face huge cost of an education
It's that time of year again - time to start getting the children ready to go back to school. But for some parents it's an expense they can't afford.
Basic calculations show that preparing to go back to school at the start of the year can cost anywhere between $500 and $850.
Blenheim mum Letitia Smith said she was relieved her youngest child was only in year 5, as it meant the cost of his Redwoodtown School uniform was a lot less.
He is allowed to wear any black shorts or trousers with his school T-shirt.
"It saves a lot of money being able to buy pants when you can find them on sale anywhere," she said.
Her daughter's high school uniform was a different story.
"Thankfully she decided to study at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology next year instead, otherwise I would be spending a fortune on a new Marlborough Girls' College uniform again this year," Mrs Smith said.
"Having to buy specific school shirts and real leather shoes instead of cheaper options available on the market seems pointless to me."
She felt the the focus should be on a decent education for children.
"They will still look neat in more affordable uniform - it works at primary schools," she said.
Many parents are saving money by buying second-hand uniforms or only buying two sets and washing them daily.
Brem Gill said on Facebook that he always bought uniform items from the second-hand store at Marlborough Boys' College.
"Some of the gear in there is near new and it costs a fraction of buying it new - my PE uniform for three years was only $38," he said.
Blenheim grandmother Sandra Neumann advised parents to start budgeting and saving about two years before their children start school.
"Continue to save every week - schooling costs including fees will drain your savings no matter how good a saver you are," she said.
On average a full uniform for secondary students costs up to $500 per student.
Stationary and school fees could add another $300 to the budget, depending on the subject.
Primary school is slightly more affordable at an average of $220 for the uniform and between $90 and $160 for stationary and school fees.
Blenheim mum Anna Stewart's daughter was about to start year 9 at Marlborough Girls' College.
Her son is now a senior at Marlborough Boys' College and as a senior student she had to purchase a complete new uniform - right down to socks.
"So I guess in total with school fees I am looking to spend $1500 give or take," Ms Stewart said.
The Marlborough Express