How to Shop Smart for Back-to-school Costs and Save
Here is a detailed outline of ASG’s recommended steps to smart shopping to save on back-to-school costs.
Preparing children for back-to-school can prove a challenge for many families, with back-to-school expenses often coinciding with the shock parents receive from holidays and Christmas credit card bills.
Parents naturally want to provide their children with new items to mark the beginning of a new school year, but may lack the cash to afford the range of items required, especially if they have more than one child.
It’s a good idea for parents to engage their children in the process and share the valuable financial literacy skills of budgeting, comparing prices, purchasing and handling cash. Money has become so invisible today that children don’t experience its value, the earning of money and its exchange for goods and services in the same way they did in the past (it’s quite common for children to think that all Mum has to do is go to the ATM and get money when she needs it!) so back-to-school shopping is an ideal learning opportunity.
Another cost that has become greater in recent years is a growing expectation from children and schools for children to be equipped with computer supplies, including computers, internet access, software USB drives, along with mobile phones, and sophisticated calculators.
3Rs of literacy and numeracy – reading, writing and arithmetic
- Read the school requirements lists for each child.
- Write a list – be sure to check what you already have at home and cross the items off the list.
- Make a budget and stick to it – get the children to help by adding up the cost of each item.
- Determine the items you can delay buying.
- Prioritise your purchases – put the high-expense items at the top of the list (savings here make the biggest difference).
- Use the internet to shop around for prices and compare value – sign up for newsletters that may alert you to savings during the year.
3Rs of the environmental movement – reduce, reuse, and recycle
- Buy less of everything – uniform items, stationery items.
- Swap items between your own children and the children of family and friends or through schools.
- Reuse items around the house or duplicate items for back-to-school.
- Buy items second-hand through school exchanges, opportunity shops, co-ops or online.
- Focus your energy on getting the best deals on your highest-priced items.
- Sell online or donate items that children have outgrown or don’t need, to charities or opportunity shops.
- Uniforms - Do shop around for school uniform requirements, just as you would for other purchases.
- Consider buying the more expensive items, such as blazers, second-hand through school exchanges or co-ops or online.
- Put off purchasing all the uniform requirements at the beginning of the year – purchase the winter uniform later and the sports uniform requirements if your child makes a team.
- Reduce the number of items you buy as part of your child’s school uniform, such as shirts, and launder more frequently. You can purchase additional items as the school year progresses, if needed.
- Buy the more costly uniform items a size or two larger to allow growing room for your child.
- The purchasing of required uniforms can represent one of the most costly areas of expenditure especially for children attending independent schools where choice is largely restricted.
Additional tips to avoid arguments while shopping and becoming more financially savvy
- Set boundaries with children before you hit the shops.
- Make agreements to give children high-priced electrical items for their next birthday if you can’t afford them in time for back-to-school.
- Learn to say “no” or to set a date to review children’s requests for expensive items.
- Let each child buy one special item of their choice to a dollar value limit and agree on this before you hit the shops.
- Avoid the high-priced shops altogether if you don’t want to pay the price.
- Check shops’ return policies and/or guarantees before buying.
- Weigh up quality versus price – an item isn’t a bargain if it falls apart after the first use.
- Go easy on the credit cards or credit charges may eat up any savings you make on the costs.
- Keep your receipts. You may be eligible for the Education Tax Refund. This means you could get up to 50 per cent back on a range of education items up to $390 for primary and $780 for secondary school students. (More information: www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au)
- Help children label their items so they don’t lose them.
ASG has supported parents to provide education opportunities for their children for more than 35 years. Find out more about ASG and ASG’s Education Program™ from www.asg.com.au or phone 1800 648 945 for more information.