Oh So Busy Mum: Nine time and money-saving must-dos to nail back-to-school prep.

Thanks to our brand partner, OfficeMax

Cheree Lawrence is the founder of parenting site, Oh So Busy Mum.

The start of the school year can be really expensive, especially when you have more than one child starting at school.

With all four of my kids now in school (two in high school and two in primary school), I had to quickly find the best ways to save both time and money when preparing my kids to start the school year.

These are my top tips that are guaranteed to save me – and hopefully you too – time and money.

1. Start preparing now and spread the costs throughout the year.

Don’t wait until after Christmas or the beginning of the school year to pay for everything at once. Try to start preparing as soon as you can by purchasing some of the school essentials you know they will need.

It also could be worth investigating any specific requirements or expectations the school might have so you can be one step ahead as soon as the year starts.

2. Order school book packs online as soon as the list becomes available.

Most schools provide the book lists in early October with the option of delivery at the start of the school year. Some suppliers even offer free delivery!

I highly recommend you do this. Not only do you run the risk of items selling out if you wait until the last minute to order, they may not be delivered in time for the first day of classes.

The added benefit of ordering prior to Christmas is knowing you can enjoy the summer holidays and start the new year organised!


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This has to be my favourite photo of these two.

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3. Check which items you have left over from the previous year.

Before any purchases are made, make sure you check what items your children still have from previous years so you don’t double up. Items like calculators, folders, pens, rulers and scissors can save you a heap if you reuse the ones from previous years.

4. Keep a box of spare items.

In addition to tip #3, I have a clear plastic tub in my cupboard where I store any spare school supplies that I have accumulated or bought cheaply as and when they are on sale.

If the kids need something throughout the year, they know they can just go to the tub and grab out what they need. When the school booklists come out, I cross off anything that we already have so I don’t double up.


5. Buy uniforms at enrolment and buy secondhand.

Uniforms can be one of the most expensive parts of sending kids off to school. Buy the essentials first and you can add the rest (like winter uniforms) later on in the year.

Check your local online buy/sell pages or uniform shops for good quality, second-hand uniforms for around half the price of buying them new.

6. Give your children lunchboxes, bags and sports shoes as Christmas presents.

I have been doing this since my kids started school and they absolutely love getting school new goodies in their Christmas stockings each year! It’s just one less thing I have to buy at the start of the year and they help to bulk up their Christmas presents.


7. Label items as soon as you get them.

This will save you money throughout the year if you don’t want to replace school gear all the time. Make sure you label everything with your child’s name and class so that if they are lost, they can be returned to your child.

You don’t have to use fancy labels; a simple Sharpie will do the trick.

8. Ask if your school has an option for instalments.

Rather than one big payment, ask your school if they offer the option of paying the school fees in smaller instalments.

Our school allows parents to split the fees over four payments, which makes it much more affordable when you have a few kids in school.

9. Buy secondhand technology.

If your kids need devices or laptops for school, search Gumtree or local buy/sell pages for second-hand items before buying it new.

Both of my older children in high school needed laptops this year and I managed to find two MacBooks in excellent condition for around $400 each on Gumtree, which saved me buying them new for upwards of $1500 each!

I hope some of these tips help you prepare for back to school – and save you as much time and money as they do for me!

See for more information.

This content is brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, OfficeMax.


OfficeMax is here to help you get back to school sorted so you can enjoy the holidays without their booklist hanging over your head.
If your child’s school has signed up to OfficeMax you can shop everything online for back to school from stationery to lunch boxes and textbooks. And by shopping with OfficeMax, you’ll instantly go into the draw to win the cost of your booklist back!