Reducing back to school costs
Save on school costs
The cost of sending kids to school can add up quickly. Not only
are parents and carers faced with paying for uniforms, bags, shoes,
stationery supplies and school fees, there are also lunches,
excursion and transport costs to consider.
Here are some ideas to help prepare and save for the school year
Save on school
If a uniform is required for your school, here are some cost
effective ways to buy school uniforms:
- Buy the essentials - Don't aim to buy a
uniform for every day of the week, instead buy a few full sets and
commit to do the washing more often.
- Spread the costs - Put off buying warmer
clothes until the seasons start to change.
- Second hand uniforms - Most school uniform
shops have very serviceable second hand uniforms for sale at much
- Talk to other parents - Get to know parents
with older kids at your school and ask them if they have any second
hand items they can hand on to you.
- Family hand-me-downs - If you have a few kids
at the same school see if you can hand down some uniform items to
- Labelling is essential - Putting your child's
name on every single uniform item is important as it means your
child's uniform will be returned to you if they lose it. Make the
label as large and obvious as possible so if it accidentally gets
taken home by another child, the parent will quickly see it's not
It is a good idea to create a budget and work out your school
expenses. Be sure to include extra costs that might come up during
the year, such as excursions and project supplies. This could be a
good opportunity to teach your kids about
the importance of budgeting.
Create a budget and factor school expenses into your
Save on school stationery
Here are some things you can do to help reduce the costs of
school supplies for your kids:
- Check what you already have - Search through
all the desks and kitchen drawers in your home and collect the
stationery you already have. Then when you hit the shops you'll
only buy the items you are missing.
- Go early but look for sales items - Start
shopping early for school supplies to avoid the queues and get what
you need, rather than just what's left but also remember that some
retailers put leftover school supplies on clearance. Keep an eye
out for these and stock up.
- Avoid impulse buys - Stick to a list or go
shopping without the kids so you won't be tempted by them to buy
more items than you need.
- Don't buy into expensive stuff - Knowing that
they might be lost or trashed, aim for cheap but durable stationery
supplies that will last, rather than brand name items. Look to shop
at discount stores, supermarkets or bulk stationery stores known
for good prices or price matching.
- Labelling saves you money - Be sure to clearly
label everything your child takes to school as it will save you in
the long run as the items will come back to you fast if they get
- Set a limit - If your kids are older, agree on
a budget with them so they can choose what they get and at the same
time learn a life lesson about budgeting and managing money.
Save on food and transport
Be prepared each week by planning school lunches. Keep an eye on
catalogues to get good deals on lunch and snack items, and make
meals in bulk if you can. Again, be sure to use cheap but good
quality containers that last and label everything.
If your child is catching public transport to school, make sure
you apply for a valid concession card for cheaper fares.
If you live in a remote area and your child cannot get public
transport, your State or Territory will provide a scheme to offset
the costs of getting to school. Here are details about different
Video: Teaching kids to be money smart - managing money
Video about teaching kids about pocket
David and Libby Koch provide some tips and advice about helping
your children manage their money and teaching the value of earning
This video was developed in partnership with the Koch
family and Father Chris Riley's Youth Off The
with school costs
There are quite a few assistance programs to help parents cope
with the extra costs of school.
Saver plus matched savings
Saver Plus is a program to help families on low incomes develop
savings habits, and could help save up for larger school costs like
fees and excursions. It helps you reach a saving goal and then
matches it dollar for dollar, up to $500. Find out more about Saver
Some financial assistance is available to families on a low
income. Some are means tested or require parents to hold a
Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme
Textbook and resource allowance
South Australia -
School Card Scheme
Western Australia -
Secondary Assistance Scheme
Studies Assistance Scheme
New South Wales - Scholarships
and allowances. Note these are only available to students who
are forced to board or otherwise live away from home because they
live in a remote area.
Back-to-school costs can add up quickly, especially if there is
more than one child going to school. To save money, it's important
to be prepared, shop early, and keep an eye out for specials and
second hand items. The money you save could be put towards other
things, like spending time together as a family.
Last updated: 29 Mar 2018