Hoooooo boy. In case you’re wondering, that sound is me checking my bank balance in January. Oh hi there negative balance, maxed out credit cards (and maxed out literally every line of credit available).
Everyone else is making very noble and grand resolutions for the year ahead, but mine is simply to not be broke next January. I mean, it rolls around every year, but I’m never prepared either emotionally or financially for it. I blame being a millennial.
To add insult to serious financial injury, January tends to bring some pretty hefty expenses with it when you have kids. Between book lists, shoes, uniforms, lunch boxes, bags, and outside of school activity fees, I know I’m quaking in my shoes at having everything ready by the time school goes back in a few weeks.
Out of necessity, I’ve been forced to think of any way possible to save money on the mountain of back to school costs, and figured there are plenty of other parents who could probably benefit.
Here are the ways I’ve saved money on hack to school costs:
There are two types of mums when it comes to back to school shopping. Which one are you?
How on earth does a grade two book list amount to more than $200, without even having anything electronic in there? And this is a public school! Between three kids (and none of them even in high school where you might expect the expense) my book list costs amount to almost $500.
While I’m certainly grateful to have them all at school, and thus no-longer paying day care or kindy fees, this is a lot of money to come up with right off the bat of the New Year.
It pays to take a good look at the items listed, and work out what’s really needed. At our school, the lists are ordered online and delivered directly to the classroom where the resources are pooled. Taking a look at just my grade two list, they call for 40 grey-lead pencils and 10 (!) erasers.
Generally, these crazy amounts are to make up for cases where families may not have ordered for their child which is very noble and I always try to do this to help out. Nut work out for yourself whether you can afford to subsidise the rest of the class. This year, I cannot (and 10 erasers per student, whether subsidising or not is… ridiculous).
If ordering online, you can edit the number of each item you’re ordering, and can save a reasonable amount by reducing.
As well as pencils and erasers, I’ll also be cutting back on the number of scrapbooks I order, as they always bring home multiple unused books at the end of the year. Should they run out during the year, you can always purchase more.
Ah, uniforms. They’re the great equaliser (or individuality eraser, depending on your point of view). Personally, I like that I don’t really need to think about what my kids will be wearing, and there can be no arguments over clothes in the morning. But, they can be pretty expensive.
It pays to sift through the second-hand racks at the school uniform shop, where you can pick up some bargains in good condition. If there are cheap second-hand hats, grab them, because it’s guaranteed there will be at least six lost hats in term one alone.
Also, check out budget-friendly shops for their school uniform section. While you’ll need to buy logo shirts from the school, you can pick up plain coloured shorts, pants, skorts, and hats for as little as $4.