Finance Consumer How parents can cut costs for the start of school
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How parents can cut costs for the start of school

Back to school costs are getting more expensive.
School supplies are getting more expensive, and parents need to budget carefully to avoid overspending. Photo: The New Daily
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Fresh off the back of a Christmas spending frenzy, parents around Australia are now forced to spend even more preparing their children for the new school year.

And research shows school supplies are more expensive this year than they were in 2019, with each child costing their mums and dads an average total of $538.

That figure factors in the price of books, stationery and uniform items.

Keeping costs down

Kirsty Lamont, money expert at financial services comparison site Mozo, told The New Daily the start of the school year is “a really expensive time for a lot of families”.

And the “biggest costs for most people” is typically in updating their children’s school wardrobe with uniforms and shoes.

Fortunately, most school uniform shops also sell “very serviceable second-hand items” for less than the cost of new items, Ms Lamont said.

If you can, start the term by squeezing the kids into whatever you have left over from last term and then hit that second-hand uniform store as soon as it opens,” she said.

There are some big savings to be had.’’

Reusing old items can also help reduce stationery bills, Ms Lamont added, and parents should search the house and take stock of any pens and books left over from the previous year before shopping.

If you take that step, you may find you can even halve your list,” she said.

Ditch the kids

Another driver behind inflated back-to-school bills is children asking for things they don’t need, or begging for more expensive versions of the items on their lists.

The best way to avoid caving to this pressure, Ms Lamont said, is to do the shopping without them.

Alternatively, Ms Lamont said parents should get their children to agree to a pre-determined budget, and allow them to pick what they want under that limit.

Finally, Ms Lamont said parents can save money over the course of the year by being crafty with school lunches.

“A lot of us will reach for the convenience of snack packs and poppers and pre-sliced anything, but in fact you’re paying through the nose for that sort of convenience,” she said.

“It really pays to invest in some quality small containers and bottles and use them to create servings of anything from yoghurt, crackers or juice, and you can really save big over the school year.”

Supplies becoming more expensive

The cost of basic school supplies has increased 13 per cent since the start of 2019, according to research commissioned by Big W.

That means parents are paying $62 more for each child, up to $538 from 2019’s $476.

But the growing number of ‘bring your own device’ programs – which ask students to bring laptops and tablets from home to complete their schoolwork – is adding to that cost for many parents.

These programs are adding an additional $242 on average to the traditional back-to-school costs – bringing the total to $863 per child.

The research also found 65 per cent of parents end up overspending despite more than three-quarters (77 per cent) creating some kind of budget in advance.

Some of that overspending is driven by kids asking for unnecessary items, with only 42 per cent of mums and 27 per cent of dads saying they can resist their children’s requests.

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