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Dublin Mum: 'How I Struggled with Back to School Costs.'

Community 2 min read

30 Jul 2021

Our recent survey revealed that a quarter of parents get into debt when covering back to school costs, while 63% find them a financial burden. 

Aoife, a mum from Dublin, is someone who has struggled to cover back to school costs, and other living expenses, over the years. Below, she tells us her story - how she would never go to a money lender again, and why she turned to her local credit union for support.

 “As a single parent with two kids with little support has always been a struggle. Particularly while studying full time as I couldn’t work, and had to be around with the kids on weekends. It was always tough, and I relied on loans, sometimes from licensed money lenders which in turn led to more depth as interest was huge.’

Aoife says the cost of back to school was always an added burden, and especially during COVID, when she couldn’t afford more than one laptop to work from home:

‘I spend about €1,500 every year - for shoes runners, accessories, uniform, tracksuit, iPads and books, exam papers - the list is endless. Things you don’t even think about like rulers, maths sets, pencil cases, lockers etc. It all adds up and you really do spend a fortune.’


‘During COVID Myself and the kids were doing school work as I was doing my thesis. We shared a laptop, I really couldn’t afford to buy two for each child. There was a lot of pressure, I found it really stressful, as did the kids. My son really struggled, and in turn he disengaged and has struggled with school and going back when schools reopened. The lack of routine and structure was really detrimental to his education and in other aspects of his life.’

Money Lenders

Over the years, the mum of two had to look to financial lenders for support – that it was something she felt she had no option about.

‘I borrowed from money lenders - the interest rate was extortionate, but I felt I had no option. It was a struggle repaying.  In previous years I relied on the credit union, so if I was still paying that loan, I couldn’t top up due to being in full time education. So I ended up paying two loans. I’d never ever take money from money lenders again, I’d advise anyone who is already struggling financially to steer clear because the interest is just way too high, and at the time getting the money seems great, long term it isn’t. I took a good year to pay back a €500 loan as the extra interest on top of the €500 was huge.’

Aoife found that her local credit union was a support in her time of need:

‘I have been in the credit union since a child, my mam would have saved for me and she always found it great service. They always helped me even when I was depending on social welfare - they really saved my life.’

You can read the full research results of our back to school survey here. If you are struggling with costs like those for back to school, you can reach out and talk to your local credit union. We’re here to help.