Send children back to school without blowing the budget

Christmas might feel like a distant memory. That is, unless your credit statement is there to continually remind you of how much you spent on gifts and yummy seasonal fare. The end of the year and, equally, the start of a new one, can be a rude awakening when it comes to expenses, particularly if you have school-age children and have to pay for all those back-to-school supplies. Canstar shares some tips on how you can stretch your dollar when it comes to back-to-school shopping. 

If you’re getting ready to send your children back to school (depending on how the holidays have gone, you might be counting down the days) then it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the expenses. Uniforms alone can cost a small fortune, and that’s only one thing on the long list of required supplies. So, to help you out, we’ve put together a few strategies you can use to manage back-to-school expenses.

Canstar’s six tips on managing the cost of back-to-school supplies

1. Reuse, recycle

Green is the new black. It goes without saying, anything that you’re able to reuse from the previous year will save you money when it comes to the back-to-school supplies list. If there is a school uniform, fingers crossed it still fits and isn’t in tatters. If it fits, don’t buy a whole new uniform just because it’s a whole new year (or decade). This goes for equipment and stationary, too. Sure, your child will have a slew of reasons why they need a new backpack and pencil case … but you have to draw the line somewhere. Maybe try letting them choose one special new item for the school year, and use the previous year’s items for the rest of the school equipment they need.

2. Visit the school clothing shop

Despite what it might feel like, the second-hand uniform clothing stores aren’t just a place for faded uniforms to die. The uniforms that end up there might just be ones children have outgrown, and be in perfect condition. Any parent who has replaced a child’s wardrobe after a growth spurt will attest to this! Buying second-hand uniform items can save you hundreds of dollars.

3. Try to source back-to-school deals for extra-curricular stuff

Between music, sports and other extra-curricular fun, many kids enjoy a host of activities beyond the classroom’s four walls. Many require expensive items of kit, too – pieces of equipment that might just be used for a term or two, until boredom sets in and a new activity beckons. But for every parent wanting to buy a drum set, there’s a parent looking to sell one. So have a look on the school notice board and put up your own wanted ad … and keep an eye out on internet sites such as trademe and Neighbourly.

4. Create a back-to-school supplies list to keep you on track

You know how people always say, “Don’t go to the supermarket hungry and always take a list.” Well, the same rule applies when you’re doing your back-to-school supplies. No, we aren’t thinking you’ll be tempted to eat a pencil case! But there is a chance that, if you don’t take a list, you’ll be distracted by the gimmicky school stationary sets and forget what’s on your actual school equipment list!

5. Label everything!

Children have a knack for losing their things all over the house, and the same thing can happen at school, so make sure you label your children’s belongings. Having name labels on as many of their belongings as possible reduces the risk of something becoming lost forever.

6. Manage your credit card spending

In the right hands, a credit card can be an excellent way of covering payments when a whole lot comes up at once. But it’s really important that you keep track of how much you’ve put on your card and understand the interest-free period and when and how much you’ll need to pay back to avoid interest charges. And, if you’re thinking about getting a credit card to make the initial payments for back-to-school supplies, make sure you shop around. Canstar compares credit card interest rates, fees and features, to help you choose an option that fits your spending personality. Use our free credit card comparison tools to narrow down your options.

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