Tech drives back-to-school bill shock

In comparison to pens, pencils, papers, and pads, technology has never been cheap, but now parents are feeling it more than ever.

Technology may well be getting less expensive over the years, but if you’re a parent, chances are that you’re still feeling a bit of the burden.

That’s the news coming from the Commonwealth Bank this week, which has released a bit of research pointing out that with kids requiring new technology in their hands and backpacks, parents are beginning to feel the burden.

According to the CommBank, families across the nation will be spending a good $1.7 billion on top of school fees, if even they’re paying those. That’s collectively, not singularly, so don’t expect to break the bank just yet, but it’s a number that indicates just how much we’re all putting in for extras on top of the educational basics, with technology a key driver in this.

CommBank’s research suggests that new laptops and tablets are a key part of this, with technological purchases higher than that of uniforms at around $182, text books at close to $127, and shoes for the year at $103, with parents increasing how much they plan to spend on technology this year.

That might go hand-in-hand with how few schools across the country are providing laptops courtesy of the state these days, something we’ve heard is happening in Canberra and possibly parts of Queensland, but seems to have been phased out in most other places.

As such, two in five Aussie families are looking to buy laptops in instalments, while almost half are considering going second hand or through hand-me downs.

The simple reality is that computers aren’t necessarily cheap, but finding out what you need to buy for your kids for this year and the next will help you work out what best to spend your money on.

If your kids are below the teenage years, there’s a good chance their needs are basic and you can spend below the $350 mark, providing a laptop that offers typing needs and web surfing, while supporting the option to code, while throwing the idea of heavy multimedia, graphics, and gaming out of the equation.

Later on as they start to shape what they want to do and factor in new needs — as in a few years later — you might want to revisit a new laptop, looking at more advanced hardware, and possibly saving throughout this time.

In fact, the Commonwealth Bank suggests setting a school budget early and tracking what you’re spending through mobile banking, using this to work out where you can save. It suggests cutting costs by looking for bargains, which in the computing world tends to happen all over shop, but is especially notable both in the middle of the year and towards the end, with the middle being usually when new computer chips arrive and the end-of-financial-year sales begin, while the latter is when end-of-year sales arrive.

Or you can shop now for the right needs, being aware that computers aren’t a one year purchase. If you treat them right and/or reset them once a year (after backing up the important files), you’ll find a laptop can last a great deal longer, extending the overall value even further.

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