Back to school blowout: Tips to avoid the financial pinch

Just when you are starting the recover from the Christmas spending crunch, all of a sudden back to school costs hit you like a bull to a gate!

Parents often leave back-to-school shopping to the last minute, mainly because it is a stressful exercise, both emotionally and financially. All of the notebooks, glitter pens and “must have” items can really add up.

Here are our top tips to get your kids kitted out this school year without draining the bank account.

  1. Either write yourself a list of what you think you need to get or have the list sent home from the school readily available.
  2. Pull out all of the items your children brought home from last year and put them into piles. Review all items and discard anything that has seen better days, too small or not required for the upcoming year. Also search your home for stationery and add anything that can be used to the piles. Now cross these items off the list of things you need to buy – you’ll be surprised how your list suddenly looks more affordable.
  3. Anything that isn’t required or no longer fits for the upcoming year, may be able to be sold. Think textbooks, geometry sets, uniforms etc. Using school networking sites and online selling sites such as Gumtree, can help you to recover some of your costs and in return you may be able to pick up what you need for a fraction of the price.
  4. Hold onto items such as lunchboxes and drink bottles, these items can get your children through for many years, as long as they are looked after. If it is time for a replacement, wait until February when school has gone back, you can expect that these items will be heavily reduced to clear floor stock.
  5. With the exception of shoe and uniform shopping, aim to go alone. Having your children in your ear asking for expensive, must have items can become increasingly overwhelming, especially when they don’t fit into the budget. Let’s be realistic, an exercise book is an exercise book – it works exactly the same even if one has the latest motivational quote on it and is glittery. When you go by yourself, you’ll be spared of all of the pressure to buy from shops like Typo and Kikki K and you can stick to the list and get what you want at an affordable price. If your children really want an expensive piece of stationery or a branded backpack, suggest that they use their own money to pay for it. If they have to weigh up whether or not they are prepared to part with their own money to splurge on a back to school item, they might go easier on your wallet next time.
  6. It pays to shop around for a bargain, stores like Officeworks will beat an identical stocked item on a quoted school list at a lower price by 20%, or you can save on time by heading to Big W who are offering free contacting of exercise books on selected days. Go online and check out the different deals available, take screen shots or print out of prices to get your discounts.
  7. If you are going to struggle with all of the upfront costs, many stores are now offering Afterpay – a buy now, interest fee, pay later option. The concept allows you to buy what you want online, receive your order and pay it off in four equal, interest free fortnightly instalments.
  8. Last but not least, the back to school grocery items. Provided you have room in your freezer and the time, start making and freezing recess treats now – such as muesli bars, mini muffins etc.

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