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Young boy receiving an apple and his lunchbox before going back to school

Pretty soon, Aussie parents across the country will be bracing themselves for the back to school morning hustle.

And while it’s generally an exciting time for parents, it can also mean coughing up a bundle in school supplies. But with opportunities to save around every corner, why not take on this school year the money savvy way?

From pencil cases to lunchboxes, here are three places you can save on your back to school shopping while giving your kid’s savings a boost.

Stationary: Keep it basic

We’ve all been guilty of buying things we don’t need, but the back to school stationery run is not the time to let impulsive spending take over so you wind up with an ache in your hip pocket or a big Afterpay bill.

When you take a trip to the stationary aisle, set a spending limit and stick to it. One common mistake I see many parents make is thinking that they need to buy everything from scratch. However, if well looked after, things like pencil cases, rulers and sharpeners don’t need to be replaced every year, even if pencils and erasers probably will.

Another thing to remember is that while they may be tempting, you should steer clear of flashy stationary brands, as these often charge a premium, even when you can find similar products without the brand name, at a far more budget friendly price.

And while some purchases are unavoidable, like notebooks, you don’t have to fork out in colourful book covering that can cost up to $2.50 per metre. One easy and fun way to save could be to get your kids to cut and paste their favourite cartoons onto their notebooks before covering it with a less expensive clear cover. Not only will your child get their own custom design, but you’ll keep them occupied all afternoon!

Uniforms: Get thrifty

Whether your child attends public or private school, nothing makes a parent’s wallet sting like school uniforms. Although there are some garments that will usually need to be bought brand new, like shirts and shoes, opting for a mix of new and pre-loved can help you save a pretty penny.

Thanks to online school forums and Facebook groups, it’s easy to find more expensive items, like blazers, second hand. Plus, these groups are great to be a part of because, as well as letting you trade or sell school uniforms, they'll also help you keep in the loop about upcoming school events and other things you should know about your kid’s school.

If you do need to purchase some uniform items new, like shoes, it’s best to avoid splashing out on expensive brands, as there’s a good chance your child will outgrow them the following year anyway.

And since you’ll have a fortune left over after getting thrifty on uniforms, you could put it into your child’s Scoot Super Saver account to start building up a savings stash for them.

Lunchboxes: Trim the excess

Cheap, tasty and healthy - the three boxes every parent attempts to tick when it comes preparing school lunch boxes.

One way to trim your grocery bill and give your child a delicious, healthy lunch is to ditch the convenience of pre-packaged snacks. While you might think they’re an easy way to fill your child’s lunchbox, it could secretly be costing you an arm and a leg.

According to Mozo research, parents shelled out an extra $1,000 last year on pre-packaged lunchbox snacks. By investing in reusable containers instead, you can keep costs to a minimum while still giving your child their lunchtime favourites. Dry foods like crackers and sultanas can easily be placed into a small container and juice poured into a drink bottle.

And if you want to keep their lunch box as natural and as sugar fee as possible, you could always make your own! For example, muesli bars have been a lunchbox hit for years but can be jammed with sugar and preservatives. By making your own from scratch, you’ll be able to sweeten them with fruit and not artificial sugar, and probably save some money while you’re at it.

Picture of Kirsty Lamont wearing nice red jacket. Director of financial comparison website Mozo

Author bio:

Kirsty Lamont is a Director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping Australians make better, more informed money choices from their insurance to weekly groceries.


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Information on this website is general and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether this information is suitable for your objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on the information provided.