If you’re in the midst of preparing for the new school year, then you’re likely busy buying school supplies for the year ahead. Costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful, placing extra stress on your finances.

Thankfully, proper planning may help remove any unwanted surprises, even if there are extra textbooks and gadgets to buy that weren’t on the school supplies list last year.

Whether your kids are in primary school or high school, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to help make buying school supplies a breeze. Listen up, because we’re about to teach a few lessons to help you successfully pass the back-to-school season with flying colours!

1. Plan and create a budget

Don’t let back-to-school expenses become a surprise. Budgeting for school expenses can help make paying them off when the time comes significantly easier. According to Finder, when all school costs are taken into account, parents pay, on average, $2,547 per primary school child each year, and $4,793 per secondary school child.1 This includes $684 on primary school supplies and $1,132 on secondary school supplies.

The exact back-to-school cost for your children may differ depending on where they’re going to school, what year they’re in and what classes they’re taking, but these figures give an estimate of what you should budget for when laying out your yearly budget. To help you budget accordingly, you can use our Budget planner calculator to help review your expenses and allocate funds towards school expenses.

2. Prioritise essential costs

Knowing what costs are essential – like textbooks, school supplies, and mandatory fees – can help you successfully navigate the back-to-school period. Optional expenses may pop up each year, including excursions/camps, school photos, and sporting/music programs. While these expenses could help enrich the school experience, it’s important to ensure you have the essentials covered before looking at these optional costs, so you can feel assured that your children are set for the new school year.

3. Comparison shopping

Don’t just accept the first price you see for something. Price comparison tools may help you save money – money that you can then use in other places within your budget. Look at multiple places whenever making school purchases, so you can be confident that you’re getting the most value for your money.

It’s also worth considering whether bulk purchasing fits your situation, because making these purchases upfront could make it easier to budget for the whole year. For example, do your children go through a lot of notebooks during the year? It may make sense to purchase them in bulk now, rather than having to buy them ad-hoc. Similarly, if your children are always using (and losing) pens/pencils/erasers, then buying these in bulk will mean there is always stationery available when they need it.

4. Reuse and recycle

It can be tempting to buy everything new each year – but this doesn’t always have to be the case, and in some instances, it may not make sense. Reusing last year’s school supplies, or repurposing previously purchased items, can help you save money. School bags, binders/folders, and stationery can all be reused, especially if they haven’t seen much use in the past. Buying everything new each year can be a costly exercise, and reusing and recycling is also better for the environment.

It's also worth doing some research into the textbooks/literature that your children require. If possible, buying novels second-hand can be much more affordable, while textbooks that haven’t changed from previous years can be purchased much more cheaply. Before doing this, however, it’s important to thoroughly read through the school supplies list, so you’re not accidentally buying an outdated version of a textbook.

5. Research financial assistance programs

You don’t have to navigate the back-to-school period alone. There are government initiatives and/or supplement payments available to help enrich your children’s school efforts, as well as get them involved in extracurricular activities with their peers.

Some government initiatives that may assist include:

  • New South Wales: Active/Creative Kids vouchers, which are $50 vouchers to be used for eligible active/creative activities with registered providers
  • Victoria: School Student Broadband Initiative, which offers eligible students free home internet until December 31, 2025
  • Queensland: FairPlay vouchers, which are $150 vouchers to be used on sport and/or active recreation memberships, registration or participation fees with registered activity providers

Each program has specific eligibility requirements, so you will need to verify you meet those requirements before applying. You may also want to get in touch with your respective government to find out whether there are other programs that you may be able to access that can assist with paying for back-to-school expenses.

6. Consider refurbished/second-hand technology

Buying school-related technology can be costly – so considering refurbished or second-hand technology can help you save money. Refurbished laptops, for example, often cost <$500, which could help you save hundreds of dollars (depending on school requirements). In addition to purchasing technology, you’ll also need to factor in things like the cost of an internet connection, what software is needed, and repair costs (if applicable), so going down the refurbished/second-hand route may significantly ease budgetary pressures.

7. Open a high-interest savings account

Combining the other tips in this list with a high-interest savings account could help your money stretch further. If you’re looking for a way to get ahead of the school expenses, while also saving for future financial goals, then it may be worth opening a Qudos Bank Bonus Saver account. $0 account keeping fees, no minimum balance and a competitive interest rate all mean you can look towards a new school year for your kids with excitement, not trepidation!

Want some help tackling the back-to-school season? We’re here to help. To learn more about opening a Qudos Bank Bonus Saver account, call our team on 1300 747 747.



[1] Back to school costs 2024 | https://finder.com.au (https://www.finder.com.au/back-to-school-costs)

The information in this article is of a general nature and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

Before opening an account with us, you should read our Terms and Conditions for Savings Accounts and Payment Services and Financial Services Guide.

The Target Market Determination for Qudos Bank’s Bonus Saver can be found at https://www.qudosbank.com.au/support/legal/target-market-determinations/

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 Published February 2024