Avoiding back to school budget blowouts

4-5 minute read

A new school year, a new stationery list, or uniform... or shoes. Cha-ching! To take the sting out, try these cost savers on for size.

The return to class can be a budget challenging time. So, eyes front parents and caregivers, because today we’re covering ways you could protect your financial wellbeing.


Lesson one – stationery savings

The list arrives, but do you actually need everything that’s on it? Maybe you still have items from last year? Like that protractor that’s buried at the bottom of the school bag, next to the lunchbox that’s also been there since the end of last term. Arm’s length. Don’t breathe in. 

Try to avoid the temptation of ordering stationery through one of the school supply services. Many items could be considerably cheaper if you purchase them yourself, especially if you keep a lookout for specials.

Interval – reuse and recycle

That lunchbox. Still usable after a decent soak in industrial-grade detergent? Good, no need for a new one. Ditto drink bottle and backpack. 

Now to the real kicker, school uniforms. Kids grow like mushrooms, as in they seem to pop up overnight. If you’re lucky, they might still fit some pieces from last year. If not, then see if your school has a second-hand uniform exchange. Quite a few schools have private Facebook groups, while others hold swap days on-site, so call the office for the intel. You could save heaps and you’ll score a few green creds too. 

A lesson in loss

There needs to be a new term coined for the anger one feels when a brand spanking new piece of school kit is reported ‘lost’. Spare yourself this indescribable pain. Label everything. Uniforms, PE gear, books, lunchboxes, bottles - label the lot. You can even get phones, bikes or devices engraved if you don't plan on reselling them. In fact, some police stations offer do-it-yourself bike and device engraving facilities. 

BYOD – the budget buster

Before you drop an eye-watering sum on a laptop or a tablet, get a clear understanding of the specs required (storage space, speed, operating system) then compare products online. Keep in mind that some schools get a bulk discount that includes a ‘choose your own device’ (CYOD) option. This may be cheaper than buying your own device, but be sure to look through the contract first, so you can be sure it’s truly the best deal. 

A parting idea. Try putting a small amount of money aside each month for those extra expenses that inevitably crop up throughout the year, like new shoes (usually signalled by a ‘I can’t feel my toes’) or extracurricular activities. Your homework is to come up with an amount you’re comfortable with. Plus, anything leftover can roll into next year’s budget. 

Class dismissed.

Important information

This material is for information purposes only. Please talk to us if you need financial advice about your situation and goals or about our products and services. See our financial advice provider disclosure at anz.co.nz/fapdisclosure.