ECON­OMY OF SCHOOL

Smart par­ents save hundreds on kit­ting out kids

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - MONIQUE HORE ED­U­CA­TION RE­PORTER monique.hore@news.com.au @monique­hore

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

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