How to save on back to school costs

Back to school shopping is back. And whether or not you’ve recovered from the silly season, it’s going to cost you. Our back to school research shows 60% of primary school parents admit to feeling stressed in the lead up to the school year due to the costs associated.

Between growing out of uniforms, taking up a new instrument and starting the year off with books of fresh, blank paper, it’s no wonder parents are stressed when it comes to costs. To help you prepare for and save on your back to school costs, we’ve put some simple tips together.

Saving on school stationary supplies

Stationary should not be expensive. With specialised stationary brands and stores around, targeted at school-aged children, it can be a hard slog for parents to negotiate the purchase of supplies for the new school year.

Stationary can be easily lost, used up quickly, and there’s no real practical benefit to having the latest season’s pencil case from a pricey brand-name store. Good stationary might make your child feel good, and it might also be important for you to ensure your child doesn’t feel left out. However, when it comes to stationary, there are great alternatives out there.

Office supply stores such as Office Works, and cheaper variety stores such as K-Mart, and your local dollar store, are a good option for cheaper supplies. And to be honest, these stores have really lifted their game when it comes to offering trendy stationary supplies for a fraction of the price of their stationary competitors.

It might be that you make a compromise with your child. For example, you might purchase the preferred cartoon-branded pencil case as long as it’s contents is made up of dollar store supplies.

Many parents find this kind of topic tricky. To help, we spoke to psychologist and mum of two, Ellen Jackson, who has written a great post on How to teach kids the difference between needs and wants.

Saving on school uniforms

Although they’ll cost you money up front, it’s a good thing we have school uniforms in Australia. Can you imagine back to school shopping for non-uniform clothing on top of everything else?

  1. Spread the costs out over the year. For example, wait until the weather is cooler to buy the winter staples.
  2. Buy second hand uniforms. Second hand uniforms can be in really good nick and can be found in school uniform shops, in online forums such as local Facebook groups, online trading sites such as gumtree or School Xchange, or by keeping your ear to the ground when chatting with other parents.
  3. Use family hand-me-downs. By keeping uniforms in good condition you may be able to reuse them for other family members.
  4. Label everything! Buy cheap labelling online and make sure you label everything. Not only will it help identify lost items but it will also deter other kids from stealing items they may have lost themselves.

Sick of your child losing their items? Stay tuned, as later this month we will be talking with psychologist, author and mum of two boys, Ellen Jackson about how to deal with kids losing things consistently.

Pop on over to successful family blogger Jody Allen’s post for more tips on how to save money on school uniforms and weekend wear.

Saving on school transport

While transport costs will be a year-long expense, it might pay to look into your plan before school goes back. Easy ways to save on transport costs include car pooling and walking or bike riding to school.

If you live in a remote area and your child cannot get public transport your State or Territory will provide a scheme to offset costs. For a list of links to each state or territory visit ASIC’s Moneysmart website and scroll down to the transport costs section


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