It’s that time of the year when those of us with school-aged kids need to start getting organised for the start of the new school year.

But with new books, uniforms and other items like lunch boxes and drink bottles to buy the costs can really pile up!

Books & Stationery

Audit last year’s supplies

Before you spend a cent it’s always a good idea to do a BIG audit of last year’s school gear. Some books may have only had a couple of pages used in them – cut them out and you have a brand new book! Things such as scissors, calculators, rulers, headphone sets and dictionaries can usually be re-used – despite the fact that they appear on the book list to buy each year!

Shop around

Many schools use online providers to manage their book lists but if you miss the cut-off (which for some schools was in early November) don’t despair! You could end up saving a packet if you’re prepared to do the hard work yourself. Simply make a list of what you need and do some shopping around.

  • Stores such as Kmart often have back to school deals for basic stationery such as 5 cent exercise books and packs of pencils, pens and rulers for a fraction of the price of buying them individually.
  • Be sure to check out stationery suppliers like Officeworks for the big-ticket items- they’ll often beat any book list price by 10%.
  • Buying textbooks online or from second-hand bookshops can generally save you around 10-20%! If you’re willing to spend the time browsing around, you’ll definitely cut the costs of your back to school bill.

Tip: Plan a craft afternoon with your kids and let them decorate their exercise books! Magazine clippings, colourful paper and cut-outs of their favourite characters will turn their 5 cent exercise book into a unique and personalised notebook that your kids will love.

Uniforms & Gear

Uniforms are generally the most expensive items on your back to school shopping list, so we’ve compiled a few tips to help you save money on these items now and throughout the year:

  • Make friends with parents in the year or two above your child (and below) and start trading on the second-hand uniform ‘black market’
  • Check your local Buy/Swap/Sell pages on Facebook or second-hand sites such as Gumtree to see if anyone is selling any uniforms for your school.
  • Look for sales throughout the year – especially for expensive items like school shoes.
  • Labelling your kid's clothing can be a pain, but we definitely recommend it. Who wants to spend $20 for a sports hat… twice in the first week!

And finally, a few general saving tips:

  • Limit tuckshop to one day a week (or fortnight) or encourage your child to use part of their pocket money to pay for tuckshop themselves.
  • Open an additional Bonus Saver account just for ‘back to school’ – set up a transfer of between $10 – $20 a fortnight from your pay and you’ll have a nice fund by January next year.

Have you got any tips for keeping back to school expenses under control? Share your best ones by leaving a comment!

This blog post is for general information purposes only and is not intended as financial or professional advice. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product or other professional advice. You should seek your own independent financial, legal and taxation advice before making any decision about any action in relation to the material in this article. Railways Credit Union Limited trading as MOVE Bank ABN 91 087 651 090. AFSL/ Australian Credit License number 234 536 | ABN 91 087 651