“Every year [at] this time, we’re all frazzled and dizzy. The reason for that is we normally focus on the festive season, gift shopping, going on holiday, entertainment, and we forget about January. The first month of the year becomes 'Janu-worry', Eunice Sibiya, head of FNB’s consumer education division, told CNBC Africa.
“We’ve consumed all the money we had, we’ve forgotten about the stationery list, we don’t know whether the school uniform still fits. It becomes a problem. It’s unfortunately something that happens every single year.”
Back-to-school shopping and schools fees are among the largest of January expenses for consumers. In some cases, parents are unable to pay for them altogether.
There is however a payment system that has been recently launched to help parents in South Africa make sizeable and affordable payments towards school fees.
“We’ve researched the whole issue [and] we’ve had schools ask us for advice in this regard. There’s a couple of issues at hand: firstly, for a school to use a debit order facility, normally [it] requires [them] to put down some sort of assurance. This is a prohibitive factor for the schools. What we’ve done is we’ve developed a system where the schools don’t need to put down assurance if they use our system. We will stand surety for the schools,” Fred Staffers from PS&S.
Staffers added that because some schools had an erratic cash flow, parents would sometimes berequested to pay almost three months to a year in advance.
PS&S have nevertheless now made it possible for parents to pay school through a monthly debit order to them, who will in turn pay the fees directly over to the school.
“It all comes back to budgeting, the very simple tool that we all know about but we take very lightly. Budgeting is the key and it is the solution,” said Sibiya.
“It’s January. We’re supposed to have budgeted for these costs that we’re facing now, last year. Throughout the year, it’s very advisable [to budget], so ideally this time, you budget for next year.”