Cutting the cost of those school basics
It’s that time already – the holidays are nearly over and it’s time to stock up on all those back to school essentials for the kids. But before you start panicking about sending your budget into meltdown – here’s some great ways you can save.
Top tips for cutting back to school costs
Do it early!
- Don’t leave your back to school stationery shopping until the day before school goes back – or even worse, once it’s already started!
- By then, all of the popular essentials will be out of stock and you’ll not only waste valuable time doing the run-around trying to find things (clear contact, anyone?!), but you’ll be stuck paying top dollar at specialist stores.
- Save time and money by buying everything as early as possible, and giving yourself time to take advantage of special prices and deals.
Save on uniforms
- Don’t pay full price for school shoes! Look for retailers offering 25% off school shoes, or ask yours to price match.
- Buying shoes for more than one child? If you’re buying multiple pairs, ask for a discount deal. Remember, in today’s competitive climate almost everything is negotiable!
- Stick to the essentials. Rather than buying unnecessary extras, commit to doing the laundry more often.
- Spread the cost out – wait until the cooler weather before buying winter uniforms.
- Embrace hand-me-downs! Whether it’s from your own older children, or friends in your school community, second hand uniforms are your budget’s best friend.
- Many schools have a second hand uniform facility, or perhaps a Facebook group where families can list second hand uniforms for sale, or even better – for free!
- Label, label, label!! Kids will be kids, and they lose things. And this is the last thing you need after you’ve paid precious cash for new uniforms. Label everything clearly so that lost items can find their way home.
Save on stationery and supplies
- Before you hit the shops – sit and take stock of what you already have, both from last year and lying around the house.
- Then make a concise list of the exact remaining items you need. And stick to it!
- It’s also a good idea to leave the kids at home so they don’t hound you for unnecessary extras or fancy varieties they don’t need.
- Beat queues and stock shortages by shopping as early as possible, and keeping an eye out for specials.
- Avoid fad items and go for cheap but durable stationery supplies that will last.
- As with your uniforms – label, label, label! This helps avoid your child asking for a new set of coloured pencils or pens before the first term is over!
Save on school lunches
- Look for special deals on functional lunch boxes that include smaller containers. These let you buy snack items in bulk and pop each day’s quantity into a re-useable container.
- Plan school lunches each week and take advantage of supermarket specials to stock up on the foods, fruit and snacks you need.
Save on school transport costs
- If you live close enough and there’s a safe route, encourage your child to walk or cycle to school – perhaps you could even join them! This keeps them active, and it’s free!
- If your child needs to catch public transport to school, make sure you apply for school transport pass or a valid concession card for cheaper fares.
- Live somewhere remote and your child can’t get public transport? Your State or Territory has a scheme to offset the costs of getting to school:
Need more help?
There are quite a few assistance programs to help with school costs.
- Saver Plus is a matched savings program to help families on low incomes develop savings habits.
- Saver Plus helps you reach a saving goal, such as larger school costs like fees and excursions, and then matches it dollar for dollar – up to $500.
- Some government financial assistance is available to families on a low income.