How To Save On Back To School Costs

How To Save On Back To School Costs

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Yes, it’s that time of the year again! With families gearing up for the start of a new school year after the expense of Christmas and school holidays, the strain and stress of back-to-school costs can be overwhelming.

Here are our tops tips to complete your back-to-school shopping on a budget and keep your bank account happy!

Use What You Already Have

Set aside an hour or so – and get the kids involved – to gather up and go through everything the kids already have from school – stationery, uniforms, backpacks, shoes and lunchboxes.

Stationery items can be wiped down, old labels removed, and things like pencils sharpened, and reused for the new school year.

Uniforms can be treated/soaked and washed, or even drycleaned, to remove any marks and stains for another year (yes, even socks!) and younger siblings can use hand-me-downs from previous years.

Shoes that still fit can be washed – straight in the washing machine or hand-scrubbed – to clean them up for a new year. Black leather shoes can be polished to help them last longer. If the laces are looking tatty, a new pair of shoelaces is a cheap and easy replacement.

Backpacks get a lot of use, so if it’s looking a bit grotty, a quick scrub in the laundry tub – or throw it in the washing machine on a gentle wash – will clean it up for the new school year.

Lunchboxes that are still in good condition can simply be given a good wash in preparation for a year of school lunches and snacks.

Shop Around

Once you have a list of necessary items to purchase, shop around to take advantage of savings and discounts.

Stationery items can be significantly cheaper at stores like Officeworks and Big W than a newsagent. I find this can save me up to $30 per booklist, which with three kids adds up to a significant saving.

Shoes can be expensive, especially if kids grow out of them quickly. ALDI has a yearly Special Buys on school shoes, and I find them to be good quality for the price. Big department stores like Big W, Kmart and even Costco also stock affordable school shoes. If you know your child’s shoe size, you can jump online to discount websites like and Amazon for shoes.

Backpacks are an essential item but don’t necessarily need to be replaced every year. If you find you can’t get more than a year out of a backpack, consider purchasing a more durable and better quality one. It may cost a little more, but they do tend to last longer.

Uniforms can be trickier to save money on when buying new. If your school uses a generic uniform, you can purchase these from places like Best&Less, Kmart and Target. You’ll have to be quick though, as these items tend to sell out quickly!

Lunchboxes are often heavily discounted at the major supermarkets in the lead up to the new school year. If you are wanting a more durable option for lunchboxes and accessories, such as stainless steel or waste-free, stores such as Biome offer a range of quality items.

Buy Secondhand

Facebook Marketplace and Buy/Sell/Swap Groups are my go-to for tracking down secondhand items. If you need to purchase school uniforms, textbooks or other items like scientific calculators, place a ‘shout-out’ for these items in your local area to see if anyone happens to be selling them.

Uniform shops are also an option for some schools, but you usually need to get in early before stock is depleted.

Textbooks can be expensive, but try sites like Fishpond for secondhand or discounted copies before buying new.

Label Everything

After purchasing everything you need, label label label everything! Kids will invariably lose something at some stage during the school year, especially with items like uniforms which all look the same. Personalised labels or label makers for stationery, and a good quality laundry maker or iron-on labels for uniforms, can be a good investment to prevent misplaced items. I personally purchase labels from Stuck On You, as the labels are long-lasting, easy to apply and come in a range of fun designs.

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Photo by Thomas Kolnowski on Unsplash


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