Help available to avoid back-to-school debts

Helen Courtney Power: working with parents to ensure loan repayments are properly structured

BACK-to-school time might seem like a long way off but a significant number of Kerry homes have no choice but to start preparing for the associated costs.

Many parents will need a little financial assistance and, in fact, three quarters of parents of school-attending children say they view the back-to-school spend as a financial burden, with 29 per cent getting into debt, according to research commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions.

The same survey found that, on average, parents were spending €1,209 per school-going child to get them ready for the school year ahead and the cost has continued to increase. In fact, a substantial one in four parents said they were forced to deny their children basic school items in 2017 because they simply could not afford them.

Helen Courtney Power, Business Development Officer with Killarney Credit Union, said many parents can be tempted to use quick but ultimately expensive means to fund the back-to-school spend.

“With more than a quarter of parents saying the costs will negatively impact on household bills, it’s very understandable that it’s a significant source of stress and that many might feel the easiest option is just to use the credit card or, worse, turn to a moneylender.

“However the interest rates with these options can be extremely high and parents can find themselves in significantly more debt than they had planned for,” she warned.

Ms Courtney Power urged parents in the South Kerry area, who might be considering these options, to talk to the credit union in advance.

“We offer a range of short-term loan options which is typically approved within 48 hours. We can also work with parents to ensure that the loan repayments are structured in a way that suits their individual circumstances best and we never charge administration, transaction fees or penalties for paying a loan back early,” she said.

The Killarney Business Development Officer said parents should feel free to drop in to their local branch for a chat about how to budget and spend within their means to ensure they don’t get into unnecessary debt around back-to-school time.

“For those who are considering a loan, we stand ready and willing to lend to new credit union members, as well as those members we may not have seen in years. There is no need to save with us for a set period of time before applying for a loan,” Ms Courtney Power said.

“Our aim is for all parents in the Killarney and South Kerry area to enjoy the summer holidays with their kids without the worry of a looming financial burden.”

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