School fees, school uniforms, school bags, sporting gear, school books. stationery, laptops, lunches, and transport. These days, the cost of sending your kids back to school every year can really add up. But with a bit of planning and a little foresight, it is possible to make sure your kids have everything they need for the school year ahead and without breaking the bank in the process.
With that in mind, here are a few simple ideas to help you stay on top of the costs that are normally associated with sending your kids back to school. Here are 6 simple ways you can save on back to school costs.
1. Spread out the costs
One tip is to only buy their things as they need them. For example, only buy those uniform items that your child will need for the first term.
By putting off buying the warmer items they’ll need for the winter months until the season actually changes, you won’t be hit with a big upfront expense and will have time to save for what’s needed further down the track.
Similarly, don’t buy all of the stationery items on their lists at the same time. Find out from the school when they’ll need the various books and supplies and if some aren’t required until later in the year, wait until then to purchase them.
2. Buy second hand
There’s nothing wrong with buying second hand. Used items have often only been worn for one season or used for one term and the difference in price between new and used can be quite substantial.
Most school uniform suppliers sell second-hand uniforms, as well as new and second-hand bookshops, often have second-hand curriculum-based school books and stationery at greatly reduced prices.
Second-hand laptops and tablets can also be purchased online for much less than new and some schools even have programs where you can purchase new computers through the school at discounted rates. You could also consider getting a low-interest personal loan and paying for your kids’ technology in easy installments.
3. Buy wisely
Rather than buying items when you need them, look out for sales and clearances throughout the year and try to buy the same items at discounted prices. Similarly, if you’re buying stationery supplies, big suppliers like Office Depot will often have rewards programs or coupons to take advantage of.
And when you buy, look for value, Good quality school wear will last a lot longer than the cheap stuff, so look for sales where quality and value come together.
4. Label everything
Over the course of the school year, the lost property office usually fills up with a wide range of items that kids have lost or misplaced. And if you struggled to be able to afford these items in the first place, you certainly can’t afford to be paying for them twice.
So label every single thing that belongs to your child, from their uniforms to their sporting gear and laptops. Using one of those permanent markers will help to ensure that if anything of theirs is lost, it will eventually find its way back to its owner.
5. Have a budget
The key to saving is to have a budget and stick to it. Work out at the beginning of the year what your kids are likely to need for school and then use the old envelope system to put a little money aside for each item every week.
Be sure to account for every likely expense and make sure you have a miscellaneous envelope to cover unexpected costs such as excursions or school camps.
6. Ask for help
If you’re struggling to meet all your kids’ back to school expenses, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s lots of assistance available and it’s just a matter of knowing where to look:
- Get help with transport costs: If your child catches the bus or the train to school every day, student concession cards are available in most states.
- Get help from the government: Federal assistance is available through Services Australia for children’s education and health care. Each state government also offers financial assistance to help with education costs.
- Get help from your school: if you’re struggling to meet school costs, talk to the principal, as most schools have financial assistance programs for families.
The cost of public primary school education has been estimated at around $23,000. A survey by the Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) also found that in urban areas you can expect to pay around $4,455 a year for public secondary education and up to $30,000 in a private school. That’s a lot of money for families to come up with, especially if there are several children to be educated.
It’s hard to do much about rising school fees, other than shopping around for the lowest. But it is possible to reduce the burden of back-to-school expenses and putting these 6 tips into practice will hopefully allow you to do just that.