Growing share of savings spent on school tech costs
New figures from a free national savings program for lower income families show a steady rise in the percentage of savings spent on school technology such as laptops over the past five years.
Saver Plus, a program developed by non-profit group the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, has recorded a progressive increase in participants saving for digital devices for their children’s education.
Participants set a savings goal for school costs, make regular deposits into a savings account over 10 months, and complete financial skills workshops. At the end of the program ANZ matches their savings, dollar for dollar, up to $500.
In the five years to 2017, matched savings claims for digital devices – such as laptops, tablets or computers – rose from 44 per cent to 56 per cent. This far exceeds the next most popular categories – school uniforms at 17 per cent, and lesson fees and equipment at 15 per cent.
Perth community worker Sharon Gardner says Saver Plus allowed her to buy a laptop for her daughter, Sarah- Kate, 15, who is starting Year 11.
“My laptop was quite old so now she has an amazing one that doesn’t crash and it’s made her life a lot easier. If she doesn’t understand something at school she will go onto YouTube and learn it that way. She does all of her assignments on it. Studying is really her passion, and she will be able to use it when she goes to uni,” Sharon says.
Brotherhood General Manager, Financial Inclusion Marian Pettit says covering education expenses can put a lot of pressure on lower income families.
“Digital technology such as computers, laptops and tablets are now basic requirements for children at school, or in vocational education. Through taking part in Saver Plus, parents can provide for the educational needs of their children at school and into their future.”
Since 2003 more than 36,000 people have saved with Saver Plus.
Independent research by RMIT University found that three years after completing Saver Plus 87 per cent of participants continued to save. Participants also reported having more control over their finances and improved wellbeing.
ANZ Group Executive Australia Fred Ohlsson said ANZ was proud to be assisting thousands of lower-income Australians get on top of their money and achieve long term financial stability.
“Our recent Financial Wellbeing Survey has shown more than 20 per cent of Australians have no savings. Saver Plus is one way we can support people to establish a savings habit, develop financial skills and strengthen confidence to access mainstream affordable financial services. This contributes to financial wellbeing for Australian families, both during and well beyond back-to-school time,” he said.
Saver Plus is funded by ANZ and the Australian Government and is delivered in 60 locations across Australia by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and other community organisations including Berry Street, The Benevolent Society and The Smith Family.
Participants must have a Centrelink Healthcare or Pensioner concession card, a child at school or be attending vocational education themselves, and regular household income from paid employment.
Enquiries can be made at www.saverplus.org.au
27 January 2018.