Depending on which part of Australia you live, Term 2 holidays for school goers has either just finished or is currently underway.
School holidays used to be about relaxation – for kids and their parents. But now, parents are looking forward to sending their children off to school again.
That’s because the cost of keeping kids entertained during holidays has never been higher. Research from Commonwealth Bank has attempted to quantify the financial impact.
Parents in New South Wales alone spend a whopping $121 million on their kids over the summer holidays.
That’s only one part of the country, and only one holiday term.
Taken together, Australian parents are likely to spend $800 million on vacation entertainment, according to Groupon, the popular coupon website.
If you think that staying home during holidays is going to save you money, think again. When school holidays roll around – especially summer hols – expect to dish out big bucks on movie trips, video games, zip-lining, ice-skating and festivals.
If you want to keep your kids physically active during the summer, that’ll cost you even more. A five-day soccer camp can run hundreds of dollars per child, and that’s excluding the $60 for soccer boots. Organized sports are even more expensive.
Some parents like to pay their kids for doing chores and other household activities. But that usually nets an average of $32 per child, which is a drop in the bucket compared to what you’ll spend during holidays.
Let’s face it: We are our kids’ private ATM. If current trends are any indication, our kids will rely on our support long after they reach the age of majority. But we’ll save that topic for another time.
Parents are stressed out enough just getting their kids through holidays. Irene Rowlands, Commonwealth Bank’s general manager of School Banking and Youth, says most parents are unprepared financially for the holiday season.
“Most parents would benefit greatly from preparing a school holiday budget, yet only two in five parents actually do it,” Rowlands said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
According to Commonwealth, 50% of parents say the financial toll of school holidays is stressful and that they are usually running low on cash for entertainment by the end of summer.
“Research tells us that most children form money habits by the time they are seven years old, yet only one in six parents discuss finance with their kids,” Rowlands added.
If parents expect financial literacy to be taught to their children in school, they will be sorely disappointed. Australian schools are encouraged to teach money management beyond the basic math skills but are not required to do so. Given that financial literacy is lacking across most strata of society, it’s safe to say we’re not doing a good job of teaching it.
It would be nice to think that the financial stress parents face ends after school holidays. But that’s when the real freak-out begins. Uniforms, books, school supplies – all these add up. And unlike summer entertainment, cutting costs on our children’s education is usually a non-starter.