It’s that time of year again when the little ones begin a new year at school, but with so many other costs to think about it always helps to save some money on new school supplies and uniforms. Schools and retailers know they can charge the earth, so the whole process of going back to school is often a stressful and expensive time.
The government has also ended its state aid program to help parents afford the cost of buying new supplies and equipment for kids returning to school, which has left many poorer families much worse off. If you relied on the recently terminated Education Maintenance Allowance for low-income families or the Schoolkids Bonus, or you simply want to cut back on school costs, the following pointers are a great place to start.
Take your Time
Rome was not built in a day and neither was saving money on back-to-school supplies. Planning and price comparing from home on the Internet can help you shave the dollars off your bill. Comparing prices on websites such as Target and Big W’s uniform sales have proven very fruitful in the past. You can also visit Buckscoop's daily deals board, keeping an eye out for any specific back to school bargains that our deal hunters have discovered online. This saves you the hassle of scouting around and price comparing products online yourself.
Search the House
A great practice to go through before beginning a new school year is to take stock of everything that you and your kids own which is school orientated. Collect everything from pens to pants in one room and add them to a list so you can clearly check off the "must-haves" and "likes" before shopping. If it's been a while since you last did this then you and the kids may have forgotten that you actually have that expensive maths book or spare skirt from last year hidden away somewhere.
Don’t take Daddy Shopping
Men in general are no match for women when it comes to shopping and this is the prime reason you should leave them at home. Dad will become frustrated or impatient which could lead to you missing out on a deal, discount or bargain that only a true professional shopping mummy would be able to sniff out. At the end of the day, you will know what Dad is like; if he can be helpful bring him, but otherwise statistically he doesn’t help with the shopping.
Ask for Helping Hands
Back-to-school shopping is a real pain and nobody really enjoys it, which is why you can save time and money utilising Officeworks useful school list service. Start by uploading your school list to the companies website and let them do the hard work of running around the store finding all the items, free of charge of course. When they are finished with your list they will send you a message saying it’s ready for collection and voila, you can head down to pick it up.
Don’t be afraid to use Officework’s ‘parents price promise’ policy either, because if you find a cheaper price on an identical item from another school list that they have quoted, Officeworks will beat it by 20%.
When buying school uniforms you have to conform to certain guidelines. However, when it comes to supplies you'll generally have much more flexibility. There are no doubt businesses that like to pray on ‘pester power’, e.g. your child really wants the Peppa Pig pencil case and will kick up a fuss in the isle even if its more expensive than the see-through case you've picked out for them.
A great idea to save money on supplies is to buy all of the most basic forms, e.g. plain pens, pencil cases, bags etc. and invest a small amount of money into stickers and decorative aids. Allow your kids to explore their creative side at a fraction of the cost whilst making their supplies the best looking in school.
There are always bulk offers on products and supplies, but quite often one kid won’t have a need for all included. So why not split the purchase with a couple of your parent friends at school? We usually recommend this method with supermarket shopping and if there is money saving capabilities included, e.g. buy 10 school shirts and receive 25% discount, who not team up?
Don't forget about Buckscoop's vouchers page too where you can search for active coupon/promo codes giving you online discounts at a wide range of retailers (including Target, Woolworths, Coles, Tinyme, Hippo Blue, SurfStitch etc)
Buckscoop have an entire board full of freebies, which regularly contain goodies that can be used for back to school supplies. Every week on a Friday you can view our blog post to see the roundup of the top Australian freebies.
In addition to our freebies page, you can also utilise local businesses and even your golf clubs pro shop to source free pens and pencils for example.
We understand sending your kids back to school is expensive, so in efforts to help you reduce your bill, this article will be part of a series of back-to-school money saving articles to help you save money through a number of means.