The back-to-school shopping list has evolved from just uniforms and exercise books to pricey backpacks and expensive devices, with new research from Officeworks showing two-thirds of parents are stressed about the cost of the new term.
With many parents still feeling the financial fallout from Christmas, here are tips and tricks to save you money while getting ready for the new school year.
Uniforms: For public schools, try budget retailers such as Kmart, Big W and Best & Less. Look online first to research prices and make sure you get the best deal. Don’t forget to buy up a size so your child can grow into it. Check out the school’s uniform shop, eBay and Gumtree, or websites such as schoolseconds.com.au. Don’t be afraid to hand uniforms down from one child to the next, or ask around to see if you can pick up someone else’s hand-me-downs.
Stationery: Shop at home first. Go through your desk, your kid’s bedrooms and kitchen drawers, and see what can be re-used this year. Rulers don’t expire. Then price-check the remaining items online, being sure to check back-to-school sales by major retailers.
Label, label, label: Whether it’s custom labels from a site such as stuckonyou.com.au or a good old-fashioned Sharpie, make sure your child’s name appears on everything, from their lunchbox to their socks. Things will go missing throughout the year. An hour with a label gun or marker will save you hassle (and money) in the long run.
Buy quality: School bags don’t need to be replaced every year. Buy a quality backpack that will last.
Pack lunch: Start making a menu plan for recess and lunch. Get creative, ask for your child’s input, and mix it up with fruit and veggies, yoghurt, sandwiches and cheese (cubed cheddar is more cost effective than pre-packaged cheese sticks). Keep processed foods to a minimum, for the health of your child and your wallet. Canteen foods should be a treat, not a daily occurrence.
Go solo: Leave the kids at home when you go shopping. Let them be part of the process when it comes to planning lunches but don’t let them insist on doing the entire back-to-school shop at Smiggle.
Get tech: Check what is actually required – does the school have a BYO device policy or are laptops or tablets supplied? Consider a refurbished device. And keep receipts and warranties so you can follow up with any issues.