The back-to-school season can be an expensive time for families. Between new school uniforms, books, stationery supplies and technology, costs can quickly add up. However, with some planning and savvy shopping, parents and foster carers can keep back-to-school expenses under control. Here are some tips to help manage costs and make the most of your back-to-school budget:

Look for Sales and Bargains

Start shopping early and look out for sales, which often take place during the summer months leading up to the new school year. Check retailer websites and circulars for coupons and special offers on school supplies. Sign up for email alerts from your favourite retailers to get notifications about upcoming sales and promotions.

Take Inventory

Before you start shopping, take an inventory of what your child already has that can still be used. Reuse last year’s backpack, lunchbox, and other supplies if they are in good condition. Check the sizing on uniforms and shoes to see what can be worn again. This will help make a list of only the necessities you actually need to purchase new.

Shop Generic Supplies

Buy generic versions of basic supplies like paper, pencils, pens, and erasers rather than name brands. Go for bulk packs of these classic school necessities to get more value. Look for affordable options at discount stores, supermarkets, and stationery shops. Stick to classic colours and styles that your child can reuse year after year.

Take Advantage of Free Resources

Find out what resources your school provides for free before stocking up on items you don’t need. Many schools offer free books, software, and sometimes even basic supplies like paper and pencils. Check if your local library loans textbooks and other resources to eliminate costs.

Explore Second-Hand Options

Buy or swap gently used uniforms, instruments, sports equipment, and other gear through school swap groups or local buy/sell sites. Pay a fraction of retail costs for quality pre-owned items. Consider organising a supply swap event with other school families to exchange reusable items at no cost.

Use Cashback Sites

Earn cashback by shopping through online portals like TopCashback when purchasing eligible back-to-school items online. The cashback can be used to offset other school expenses. Just remember to go through the portal when shopping to earn the rewards.

Spread Out Big Costs

Open a dedicated savings account at the start of the year and make regular deposits to cover the next back-to-school season. If you are a foster carer, some of your foster care payments should go towards this. Alternatively, set up a layaway plan with retailers to pay for major expenses like computers and uniforms over several months interest-free.

Look for Assistance Programmes

Take advantage of local school supply drives, foster care grants, voucher programmes, tax relief, and other assistance to offset costs if you are facing financial hardship. Reach out to your child’s school, local government, charities, and community groups for support.

With some savvy shopping, resourcefulness, and careful budgeting, parents and foster carers can keep back-to-school costs under control. Focus on priorities, take advantage of deals and free resources, buy smart and you will be able to manage expenses without breaking the bank. The new school year will be here before you know it, so start planning and saving now!