By Rachel Hynes.
The “back-to-school” season is sandwiched between Christmas and Easter and is fast becoming as big a retail event and wallet drain.
This year, I have two kids doing the back-to-school shop. We are lucky enough to live very near an Officeworks. And I do mean lucky – I dash up there for last minute printing for clients, urgently needed printer ink, school supplies, birthday presents, even toilet paper! (And they keep the same hours I do: long.) So this year, I thought it would be cute if the teenager with her stationery list took the 5-year-old with her stationery list, and inducted her into the world of back-to-school shopping. Some sisterly bonding. I will be lurking in the aisles taking photos of that cuteness.
This is also the first year I’ve had two sets of uniforms to buy. And because of the age difference, there are no hand-me-downs. I remember as a kid mum always buying Clarks shoes a size too big so we’d get an extra year out of them. These days, the store assistants skilled in the dark art of kids’ shoe fitting seem to like a firm fit. I’ve felt…strongly discouraged, shall we say…when I’ve meekly suggested going up a size.
We asked our readers for tips on how to save on back-to-school costs, and these were some of their suggestions:
- Reuse last year’s supplies that are in reasonable order
- Check Freecycle websites for people who may have done an office clean out
- Buy plain instead of patterned folders and let your kids decorate them themselves
- Keep an eye out for flyers in the letterbox for the cheapest stores and deals
- If your kids want to buy extras not on the list such as locker accessories or fancy pens, they can buy them out of their own money
- For backpacks, check out your local goodwill store – you might find a backpack in good condition that just needs a thorough wash
- Find out from the school when the second-hand uniform store opens – they are often open a week before school starts
- Use the Uniform Exchange website: The Uniform Exchange – Buyers & Sellers of Used & Second Hand School Uniforms.
- If you’re trying to save time rather than money, check out Officeworks’ service where you supply the list, they put it together and text you when it’s ready.
Parents of school children, give me your back-to-school savings tips. How do you avoid getting caught up in the madness and buying stuff you don’t need? Do you find this time of year expensive? Is it more – or less – expensive if your school sells you the stationery pack? Any tips for saving on uniforms, shoes, sports equipment, instruments…?