The cost of sending kids to school can add up quickly. Not only are parents and carers faced with paying for uniforms, bags, shoes, stationery supplies and school fees, there are also lunches, excursion and transport costs to consider.

Here are some ideas from MoneySmart to help prepare and save for the school year ahead.

Save on school uniforms

If a uniform is required for your school, here are some cost effective ways to buy school uniforms:

  • Buy the essentials – Don’t aim to buy a uniform for every day of the week, instead buying a few full sets and commit to do the washing more often.
  • Spread the costs – Put off buying warmer clothes until the seasons start to change.
  • Second hand uniforms – Most school uniform shops have very serviceable second hand uniforms for sale at much reduced prices.
  • Talk to other parents – Get to know parents with older kids at your school and ask them if they have any second hand items they can hand on to you.
  • Family hand-me-downs – If you have a few kids at the same school see if you can hand down some uniform items to younger siblings.
  • Labelling is essential – Putting your child’s name on every single uniform item is important as it means your child’s uniform will be returned to you if they lose it. Make the label as large and obvious as possible so if it accidentally gets taken home by another child, the parent will quickly see it’s not their child’s.

Use our budget planner to work out your school expenses. Be sure to include extra costs that might come up during the year, such as excursions and project supplies. This could be a good opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of budgeting.

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Government assistance with school costs

There are quite a few assistance programs to help parents cope with the extra costs of school.

Saver plus matched savings

Saver Plus is a program to help families on low incomes develop savings habits, and could help save up for larger school costs like fees and excursions. It helps you reach a saving goal and then matches it dollar for dollar, up to $500. Find out more about Saver Plus

Government assistance

Some financial assistance is available to families on a low income. Some are means tested or require parents to hold a concession card.

NationalSchoolkids bonus and Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme

QueenslandTextbook and resource allowance

South AustraliaSchool Card Scheme

Western AustraliaSecondary Assistance Scheme

TasmaniaStudies Assistance Scheme

Back-to-school costs can add up quickly, especially if there is more than one child going to school. To save money, it’s important to be prepared, shop early, and keep an eye out for specials and second hand items. The money you save could be put towards other things, like spending time together as a family.

Read on for further ideas on school stationery and supplies and food and transport costs

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