The Tricks Savvy Parents Are Using To Save Money On Back To School Shopping
There is no doubt that back to school is yet another time of year where it can be easy to succumb to emotional (over) spending -- even if it adds to our post-Christmas financial stress.
But just because you can (or want to), it doesn’t mean you should.
In fact if it's done right, the back to school season can even present a great opportunity to reduce your spending and redirect your savings towards other areas of your budget -- like a family holiday or date night fund.
So if you are someone who is used to shopping last minute and buying as you go, here are some easy tips personally recommended by parents to help you access hidden savings:
1. Check what you have before writing your list
The biggest mistake you can make is to shop without a list and before checking what items you already have lying around the home.
See what other items can be removed from the list -- is it a must-have or a nice-to-have? Does it need to be bought now or can it wait until later in the term? Sometimes it can pay to hold off.
2. Buy second hand uniforms instead of brand new ones
Technology has never made it easier to shop second hand -- whether we are talking school uniforms, textbooks or computer gear. As I always say -- no one but you knows what you paid for it.
Not being used to shopping second hand, I was amazed at the great quality of the second-hand school uniforms I purchased -- for $40 I got my son three sets of summer and winter uniforms, saving well over $200. After that, I was hooked.
So check out your school, parent groups and local Buy Nothing group before you head to the shops.
3. Wash school uniforms in cold water
I love this tip because not only will it help preserve the school clothes from fading and wearing out, it will also reduce your energy bill.
For added protection, turn the clothes inside out when you wash, dry and iron them and avoid drying them in sunlight.
4. Invest in quality for items like school shoes
When it comes to shoes, spending a little more on buying a quality pair of shoes will save you money in the long run since they will last longer.
For leather shoes, be sure to regularly clean and polish them. This will help them to last longer, and when your child grows out of them gives you a better chance at reselling them or handing them down.
5. Sell school items your child no longer needs
Take a look around the home for any items you no longer need that you can sell. You can use these savings to buy new school supplies or set them aside to help pay for school excursions as they arise.
6. Swap brands for simpler substitutes
Swap fancy lunch boxes for Tupperware containers and designer notebooks for plain ones and get the kids to decorate/personalise them.
It is also worth investigating whether there are generic substitutes available for school uniforms at department stores if you can’t find anything second hand.
7. Label everything
The last thing you need is to be spending more to replace lost items so it can pay to invest in some labels. There are also a lot of trendy personalised options online.
8. Buy lunchbox snacks in bulk
When it comes to long lasting snacks like crackers, sultanas and popcorn, its often more cost effective to buy (or in the case of popcorn, make) in bulk and portion out instead of buying individual sizes.
9. Claim items like laptops on tax
Huh? I hear you saying -- but I can’t claim school supplies on tax, can I? Sadly, no you cannot. However, if your child needs a laptop for school, consider giving them your hand-me-down and buying one for yourself instead.
If you use your laptop a lot for work, you may be able to salary sacrifice it or claim on your tax return and pocket some savings along the way. Speak with your accountant and employer to find out if you are eligible.
10. Ask ahead about excursions and plan for unexpected expenses
Have a chat to the school to find out what excursions and extra-curricular activities are likely to come up during the year so that you can start saving early. We all know when it comes to bills -- when it rains, it pours, so be as prepared as possible.
Also ask your school about any government subsidies that are available -- for example in NSW the Active Kids program offers two $100 vouchers to put towards sport and active recreation costs.
Featured image: Supplied/Getty