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Keeping back-to-school spending low
By MyBudget Editor

How to keep your back-to-school spend as low as possible

With the end of the school holidays in sight, you may be excited and relieved to send your kids back to school. 

At the same time, you may be feeling a financial pinch. With all the back-to-school shopping expenses piling up, you may be feeling the pressure of how you’ll cover their education this year.

Here are our top tips to keep your back-to-school spending down without compromising your child’s education or hurting their potential.

Save on school uniforms

School uniforms can present a financial challenge because your child needs to wear a clean uniform set each day. 

The truth is, you don’t have to buy a set for every single day. Rather than buying 5 sets to cover an entire week of school, keep expenses down by buying just a few. Remember to do the laundry in the middle of the week and your child will always be ready for school.

To save even more money, buy uniforms that are a few sizes up. Your children are growing fast and slightly larger uniforms will fit them a little bit longer delaying your need to buy them more uniforms.

When possible, buy second-hand uniforms or even have your children wear hand-me-downs from older siblings to save even more.

Cut costs on stationary and other educational materials

You can cut the cost of stationary, books, textbooks and other supplies by using what you already have. Before you go to the shops to buy new educational materials, double-check if you or your children have them at home already.

Look out for heavily discounted items long before your children go back to school. If your eyes are sharp you can get higher quality materials for a lower price.

Also keep in mind, retailers want to clear stock at the last minute presenting another opportunity to save. If you didn’t pick up all your child’s needs at first, you may still be able to at the last minute, at the right price.

To cut your costs further, don’t buy the most expensive materials around, but don’t buy the cheapest either. Cheaper materials often break and you’ll find yourself repeatedly spending on replacements over time.

Lastly, never buy on impulse and buy new materials only if you really need them!

Use public transport

In Australia, there are a ton of schemes to offset the cost of going back to school. If your child is taking public transport, make sure you apply for valid concession cards to lower their transport fares.

Also make sure you get your child a public transport card like a goCard or Opal card. Prices can be up to 30% less for pre-purchased tickets. After a certain amount of trips each week, the trips are free.

If you’re travelling in your own car, consider carpooling. If you’re friendly with the other parents in your neighbourhood, consider taking their children when driving yours to school.

Then work out a roster with the other parents in the neighbourhood so everyone covers a different day of the week. By doing so, you’ll save time, petrol costs and wear and tear costs on your car.

Plan school lunches in advance 

Even when life is wildly hectic, it’s worth taking the time to prepare lunches in bulk for your child. 

A lot of school canteens place a mark-up on the food they’re selling. If your kids are entering the school canteen to buy snacks and meals multiple times a day, your wallet is going to get hurt.

But with your child taking their food to school, they won’t need to drop into the canteen for recess, lunch or even afternoon tea. By preparing meals and snacks ahead, you’ll save.

Invest in higher quality items 

Cheaper items may help you save in the short-term but there’s a higher likelihood they’ll cost you more over the long run.

Buying the cheapest pair of shoes around may see the soles peeling from the bottom of your child’s shoes sooner than you’d like. The same goes for your child’s backpack, swim gear, water bottle, lunch box and stationary.

The old saying “you get what you pay for” rings true here. 

You don’t need to buy the best items around but spending just a little bit more on slightly better quality items up-front will help you save. It will keep you from needing to repeatedly buy new items simply because the higher quality items last longer.

Label everything

Your children are extremely active at school. Sometimes their focus will be scattered and they may lose items you’ve bought them; items necessary to their education.

To save money, clearly label everything your child takes to school in their backpack, including the backpack. In the case they lose anything, there’s a chance that what they lose will be returned to them.

You won’t have to spend more money on replacements!

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