Benson Tait

Benson Tait

Jan 13, 2024. 5 mins read

Family Finance

9 Simple Ways to Save on Back To School Costs

Parents, hold onto your hats: school bells are ringing, and your wallet is about to hit some serious notes. Cost comparison site Finder uncovered that, on average, parents will spend $2547 for all primary school costs in 2024, such as tuition, camps, excursions, sporting equipment, and transport costs. Schooling expenses are soaring, with uniform average costs increasing by 36% since 2020. Along with increased rents, mortgages and the general cost of living, families in Australia are seriously struggling to keep up.

Single Mother At Home Getting Son Wearing Uniform Ready For First Day Of School

Stress-free back-to-school savings tips; no drastic measures needed

Before we get to our 9 top tips, back-to-school savings starts with some back-to-basics thinking:

  • If buying new, always shop around for the best deal

  • Label everything to avoid rebuying the same item in the future

  • Don't shop with the kids to prevent pressure and nagging for all the latest stuff

  • Set a budget to ensure you prioritise needs over wants

  • Planning ahead helps reduce stress and impulse buys

  • Always stock take what you have at home or ask family and friends if they are getting rid of any school-related items

Now, armed with the right mindset, here are some practical tips to get on top of those compounding costs.   

1. Master the Lunchbox Game 

Feeding the little ones can be a stressful and pricey affair! Rather than shelling out for those pre-packaged snacks that look like something from a sci-fi movie, consider a lunchbox makeover.

Think thrifty, get organised by meal prepping, buy in bulk or pack your own snack packs for food such as:

  • dried fruits and nuts

  • crackers

  • cheese sticks

  • chips (for treats!)

  • yoghurt

  • bonus points if you can sneak in some veggie sticks for a nutritional win-win!

Needing more inspo? Plenty of Facebook groups exist for healthy and colourful lunch box ideas; type ''lunch box ideas'' in the search bar. We love the lunchbox ideas group.

2. Thrifty Uniform Hunting

One of the biggest back-to-school savings tips of all time is making a conscious effort to reduce the cost of uniforms. With the average cost of this mandatory attire typically revolving around $300 depending on the age group when purchased new, it definitely pays off to look into pre-loved clothes by:

  • Buying from the school uniform shop: my child's school has all the items for $5!

  • Buying or swapping with other parents whose kids have outgrown their uniform: you can often find them on school Whatsapp or Facebook groups

  • Through a secondhand marketplace, for example, Pay It Forward groups

Not only will you save money, but you'll also be doing a good deed by shopping with sustainability in mind. And kids grow faster than a speeding kangaroo, so there's no need to splurge on brand-new gear every year.

It also pays to spread the cost throughout the year; for example, buying winter uniforms a bit later gives you time to find a cheaper deal while sourcing good quality clothes.

3. Budget-Friendly Stationery

When embracing frugal living, it can be hard to justify purchasing a $20 pencil case – and fortunately, you don't need to. Basic school supplies don't have to be boring and underwhelming, either! 

  • A few stickers and fabric markers here and there can do wonders for transforming plain stationery while giving your children a creative outlet

  • By reusing last year's stationery or simply looking around the house for what's already there, you'll be savvy and smart

4. Tech Savvy Savings

Before selling your soul for the latest tech, you can save money by checking out your school's uniform shop or asking if they have any discount offers internally or with an external provider.

Next, check out the secondhand market. You'd be surprised at the gems hiding in digital thrift stores, marketplaces, and even major online retailers. The latter, such as Apple or Sony, even offer substantial discounts for refurbished or previously rented technology. Snag a pre-loved gadget and watch your bank balance breathe a sigh of relief!

Looking for a new deal? Tech Radar has done some digging for savings on laptops, tablets, printers and more.

5. Textbook Tango: Borrow and Swap

While increasing portions of school curriculums rely on technology, textbooks are usually still required. This is another perfect avenue for embracing a circular economy – why buy new books when you can easily borrow them? Head to the local library, visit a store specialising in secondhand literature, or organise a textbook swap with other parents – the endless possibilities! Your wallet will thank you, and you'll have more funds for the good stuff, like a weekend BBQ. 

6. Find Financial Assistance

In Australia, a range of benefits are available for eligible families to help with the cost of education and daily living. You may not realise that you're entitled to some level of support, so it pays off to check in with Services Australia or the National Saver Plus Program. Good Shepherd administers No no-interest loans offered by charities.

State Government Assistance is also available for education costs:


Active Kids Voucher

Creative Kids Voucher

Financial support for students


State Schools Relief

Student Scholarships


Textbook and Resource Allowance

South Australia

School Card Scheme

Western Australia

Secondary Assistance Scheme

Australian Capital Territory

Financial and Resource Assistance for Families

Northern Territory

Student Financial Help and Scholarships

7. Rethink Extravagant Extracurriculars

While extracurricular activities are tempting – and undeniably fun – the costs can add up. Instead of forking out for pricey classes, explore budget-friendly alternatives to save money. Local community centres, online tutorials, and DIY projects can be just as enriching without burning a hole in your pocket. 

Alternatively, swap out seasonal lessons for a few months of the year, such as swimming lessons in the summer only or ballet and other sports lessons in the winter. Government Sports Vouchers are available in some states to assist with some of the costs of participation.

8. Carpooling Capers: Sharing is Caring

The school run is a daily expedition synonymous with Australia, much like Vegemite on toast. Saving money on fuel and being more efficient with your time can be achieved by organising a carpool with other parents. It's a win for everyone – your kids get to school, and you save on petrol, all while turning parenting efficiency right up to the max!

9. Two Words: Toy Libraries

Don't think your local toy library can help with frugal back-to-school shenanigans? Think again because toy libraries aren't just about fun and games – many offer educational toys that can aid your child's development and fit well into their schooling. A toy library trip can help foster learning without breaking the bank, from puzzles to science kits to educational resources. 

We hope this blog helps you feel less overwhelmed and confidently empowered to embrace budget-friendly, sustainable living practices while slashing those mounting school-related expenses. 

Even if you find that not every strategy applies to your household, the simple act of mindfully revising routine daily practices is a massive step towards a more balanced and conscientious approach to parenting and sustainable living. After all, it's not about striving for absolute perfection– but instead, all we can do is our best in the circumstances we're facing while learning more about our values and 'whys' every single day so that our children have the best possible future.

Benson Tait

Benson Tait

Design . Digital . Fathering . Husbanding . Surviving . Founder

A man who loves design, technology, food and his family of two young girls and a smart gorgeous wife, who is on a mission to make parenting easier and help kids flourish for a happier home.

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