ECONOMY OF SCHOOL
Smart parents save hundreds on kitting out kids
THRIFTY parents are finding ways to slash mounting back-to-school costs — shopping around and using handme-downs to save hundreds of dollars.
Research shows two-thirds of parents are stressed about the costs of their children returning to school.
Half of families use hand-medowns, while a third will cut the amount they spend on entertainment to compensate for school bills.
It comes as some schools demand parents pay for required devices — even specifying the exact make and model. A Ballarat high school has listed a $684 Apple iPad Air 2 — with wi-fi and 128GB of memory — as part of its year 7 book list. It brings the total cost to $842.26, compared with about $180 at other regional schools.
Seaford mum Jess Lewis swaps school clothes with friends to cut down on the cost of uniforms.
She paid $170 for their school, Belvedere Park Primary, to supply son Ben, 9, and twins Holly and Chloe, 7, with stationery for the year.
“I looked at the book list and it works out that, between the three children, I would have had to send them to school with 21 glue sticks for the year,” she said.
“To go out and get all that stuff myself would be a nightmare. Financially trying to keep up with everyone else, particularly with technology, is difficult.
“Trying to keep the kids happy, meet the school needs and not break the budget is hard. It’s expensive.”
Big retailers including Kmart, Big W and Target are running back-toschool campaigns, and Officeworks is promising it can save families with three children about $300.
Officeworks’ national merchandise manager Jim Berndelis said: “The back-to-school period can be stressful for parents, so we aim to make the experience as enjoyable and hasslefree as we can.”
Parents are also turning to chain stores, rather than official uniform suppliers, to potentially save hundreds of dollars.
Finance expert Canna Campbell said organised parents didn’t need to dread the rush for when government schools reopen on January 27.
She encouraged parents to make a list to prevent impulse buys.
“Organisation is also key when it comes to saving money at back to school time,” Ms Campbell said.
“By starting shopping earlier, parents have more opportunity to shop around for the best products rather than doing a last-minute scramble.”
Ben with twin sisters Holly and Chloe — their mum saved by buying their uniforms through their school. Picture: JASON SAMMON