School bells rang out across the country again this week, signalling the end of summer for Ireland’s primary and secondary school children.
As the kids trudge towards evenings of spellings and sums, their parents face some challenging maths problems of their own. And that’s because the cost of books, bags and other back-to-school basics are now higher than ever.
In fact, the price of books have jumped by as much as €25 this year, and the so-called “voluntary” contribution now stands at €150 per child for some families.
So it’s hardly surprising that over 105,000 families have received back-to-school financial assistance from the Department of Social Protection so far this year. And there are still 51,000 families waiting to see if their requests for funds will be granted.
Barnardo’s says that a family needs €365 to pay for a child in senior infants, and €785 for a boy or girl in first year. And that’s before transport and extra-curricular costs.
This is forcing some parents to forego essential bills, with one in five secondary school parents having to take out loans to make ends meet.
While we can’t do much about the price of bags and books, we can certainly help parents save hundreds of euro on big household bills, like electricity, gas and broadband. And that should go a long way to relieving the burden of those hefty back-to-school bills.
Electricity – save €173
Nearly 9 out of 10 Irish households are paying expensive standard rates and missing out on very simple savings.
Bord Gáis Energy is offering a 16% discount on electricity to new customers who sign up through bonkers.ie. This is the cheapest electricity deal on the market right now and was featured as the Irish Examiner’s ‘Deal of the Week’ this week.
On this exclusive package, you’ll spend about €1,038 on electricity (including taxes, PSO Levy and Standing Charge) for a year, which will save you €173 if you’re on a standard rate.
Gas – save €165
The best gas deal on the market at the moment comes from Flogas. There’s a 20% discount up for grabs if you opt to pay by direct debit.
By switching today, you’ll end up paying about €798 in your first year, which is a whole €165 cheaper than standard rates.
So, by switching your electricity to Bord Gáis Energy and your gas to Flogas, you’ll save up to €338 on your energy bills. And that’ll nearly cover the full back-to-school cost for a senior infant.
Once the kids’ homework is out of the way, you might like to spend your evenings plonked in front of the box with the family. There are some decent TV offers available at the moment.
Sky is offering its digital TV service for €19 a month, and is throwing in €30 cashback to sweeten the deal. That should cover the cost of a couple of Busy at Maths books.
By signing up for TV with UPC, you’ll get Setanta Sports free for two months, which will be appealing to Premier League fanatics. The full package costs €30 a month.
If long Skype chats, online gaming and Netflix binges are your kids’ ideal way of spending their evenings, you broadband is probably in high demand.
While the speed of your connection is important, getting an unlimited package should be the top priority for a busy household.
Unlimited data comes as standard with most Tripleplay (TV, broadband and phone) packages nowadays. And the good new is that Tripleplay bundles are the best way to make smart savings too.
UPC’s Tripleplay bundle will get you the fastest broadband in the country (240Mbps), free calls to landlines in Ireland (plus 400 international minutes) and over 50 digital TV channels.
This will cost you €70 a month over an 18-month contract.
Sky’s Tripleplay bundle will cost you €60 a month for 6 months and €79 a month thereafter. That amounts to an average monthly price of €69.50 over the full contract.
For that, you’ll get digital TV, unlimited 100Mbps fibre broadband and free calls to Irish landlines on weekends and evenings.
With Eircom, you’ll get over 50 digital TV channels, unlimited eFibre broadband (with 100Mbps download speeds) and unlimited anytime calls to landlines.
It’ll cost you €30 a month for 6 months and €73 for the remaining 12 months of the contract. That works out at an average of about €59 a month.
Switch and save today
Back-to-school costs can seem overwhelming and it’s a sad state of affairs when families are having to miss bill payment deadlines, borrow money from friends and cut down on food expenses to make ends meet.
However, by taking advantage of the generous electricity and gas discounts currently available, and by bundling your TV, broadband and phone in a Tripleplay package, you could easily save more than the €365 back-to-school costs for a primary school goer.
Your kids have calculators to help them with their homework. You have bonkers.ie to help you with yours.
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