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Budget-friendly tips for back-to-school preparations

Finance & Money

Posted on Monday, December 20, 2021

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From new stationery to a new class and friends, the start of the school year can be an exciting time for parents and kids, but it can also be pricey! Try these back-to-school tips to make this time of year easier on your pocket.


Search and take stock


Life with kids often means endless supplies scattered around the home. Look through your drawers, cupboards and even the kitchen for unused notebooks, pens and folders. You’re bound to find some hidden gems! Check if last year’s stationery can be reused with a glow up. Once you’re done, list all the items you still need and create a budget. Pencil cases, crayons, pencils, pens, calculators and rulers can often still be reused.


Choose budget schoolwear


Besides school fees, uniforms can be the most expensive school purchases. Try these tips to save:

  • Only buy what’s necessary from school uniform stores, as they are usually pricey.
  • Buy basics like plain shoes, socks, shirts and belts at affordable clothing stores.
  • Choose certain clothing items in a slightly larger size so they can last a few years. Blazers are a good example, as they can be really pricey and are used throughout the school years.
  • Try to reuse clothing items that are still in good shape. If alterations are needed (e.g. loosening a hem or mending minor tears), try to fix them yourself or have a tailor do it.

Pack lunch smart


Sending your kids to school with pocket money every day may seem convenient, but it can quickly add up. What’s more, tuck-shop lunches are often unhealthy. To save money and time:

  • Prep lunches ahead of time – fill lunch boxes with eats such as sandwiches with healthy fillings, fruit, veggie sticks and crackers.
  • Invest in some plastic containers, including bottles for water, that will last the school year.
  • Give them some pocket money for a treat now and then (e.g. every Friday).
  • Buy in bulk where possible, as it’s more affordable. Good options include snack bars, nuts, trail mix and chips. Pocket tissues and hand wipes can also be bought in bulk.

Shop at your local supermarket


Speciality stationery shops have great options, but they are usually overpriced. Try buying everything your child needs, including stationery, at the start of the school year. And buy it where you buy your groceries – this will save you time and money, as you won’t have to visit multiple shops. Doing your shopping after school is back in full swing is your best bet for back-to-school deals.


Get creative


If your kids still have backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, files and binders that are in a good condition but are not so pretty, get decorating! Look for inspiration on Pinterest and YouTube to give them a face-lift. For example:

  • Cover notebooks, hardcovers and files with cut-outs from magazines or print-outs from the internet.
  • Use stickers to decorate or brighten up lunch boxes.
  • Sew your child’s name on their backpack and attach colourful pins or tags to zips.
  • Use fabric paint or a felt-tip pen to add colour to backpacks and pencil cases.


Use back-to-school prep as a bonding project. For instance, let your children help decorate their school items, choose their lunches and craft timetables to stick on the fridge. Remember, cost notwithstanding, this should be an exciting experience! School days come only once.


The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.