With fees, books, shoes, uniforms, and extracurricular activities to think about, sending the kids back to school can be expensive.
We’ve done a 2021 update to our practical hints and tips on finding the best deals and saving money on these things.
We think K-Mart, Officeworks, and Big W are usually the best options.
This year Choice did a comparison of back to school supplies, and the basket they created came in cheapest at Officeworks with Big W following in one instance and K-Mart in the other.
If you prefer to shop online and have stationary delivered, Officeworks has free delivery over $55, K-Mart over $65 and Big W delivery prices start from $7.90. All 3 offer in-store click and collect for free.
Officeworks have updated their Parents Price Policy from last year. This year, until 7 February 2021 Officeworks is offering a Parent’s Price policy. This applies to items on the official stationery list supplied by your school. If you find an identical item for less, they will price match and deduct a further 20%.
Officeworks offers free delivery to Metro areas where you spend over $55.
This year Big W is offering Price Match on any identical stationery, data storage, calculators computer accessories, printers, ink, backpacks, kids underwear, kids socks, and Smash and Mambo lunch and storage items. This offer is valid until 27 January 2021 and no longer the 10% discount on matching items that they provided last year.
The Big W offer doesn’t require the items to be on an official school stationery list.
Big W’s delivery options start at $7.90 for Metro areas.
K-Mart is also offering Price Match as they always do for an identical item in their store.
K-Mart’s regular prices are always pretty competitive, so it’s worth taking a look.
Delivery is free in metro areas for any purchase over $65.
Don’t pay full price!
If you need to get your child standard black leather school shoes nearly everywhere is on sale. Take the time to shop around. The same goes for sports shoes.
Here are the sales we know about today:
30% off all Airflex school shoes – available online and in some stores
Free shipping on orders over $64.99
20% off School shoes – available online and in-store
Free shipping on orders over $99
Shoes & Sox
20% off School shoes & Black sports shoes – available online and in-store
Free shipping on orders over $69
1 – 31 January
20% off school shoes & black sports shoes – available in-store and online
Free delivery over $49
20% off full-priced sneakers & school shoes – available in-store & online
Free shipping on orders over $50
Catch of the Day
A quick look shows a range of shoes with big discounts, so it might be worth taking a look to see if they currently have your child’s size.
Target has some school shoes ranging from $35 to $45 however experience tells us that they don’t tend to last as long or as well as some of the more well-known school shoe brands.
Delivery is free on orders over $45.
School shoes here start at $15 per pair – available in-store and online.
Free Delivery over $65
Some schools recycle school uniforms, so if you want to save a little bit of money on uniforms it’s worth asking if the uniform shop has any second-hand uniforms.
Alternatively, make use of Facebook community groups to ask if anybody has uniforms in good condition that they want to give away or sell.
Don’t worry about your kids being in used uniforms, they’ll be surrounded by other kids in new and not-new uniforms. Often uniforms are handed down from older siblings, friends, and neighbours.
If you are looking to buy new uniforms, and are struggling to get to the uniform shop, your school may be serviced by Lowes. Lowes offers free postage on spends over $100 as well as 90-day returns. If you don’t have time to get to the uniform shop at school, Lowes might be a good option for your family.
Extra-curricular and outside school activities
Most state governments now offer rebates to encourage parents to enrol their kids in sporting and creative activities. Eligibility and entitlements vary by state so check the table below and with your state government. Not all activity providers accept these vouchers, so it’s important to ask or find out whether they do before enrolling your child in the activity.
New South Wales
https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/active-kids All children between 4.5 and 18 years old who are NSW residents and enrolled in school (including homeschool) are eligible for a $100 voucher twice a year to use for sport or active recreation. The first voucher is available on the 1st of January & the 2nd voucher is available on the 1st of July.
https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/creative-kids All children between 4.5 and 18 years old who are NSW residents and enrolled in school (including homeschool) are eligible for a $100 voucher each year to use for activities such as creative arts, speech, drama, dance, digital design, coding, and music lessons and activities. The voucher is available for use at any time during the year and available on the 1st of January.
https://www.qld.gov.au/recreation/sports/funding/fairplay/apply Children between the ages of 5 and 17 who are QLD residents and listed on a Health Care Concession or Pensioner card are eligible for a $150 Fair Play Voucher to use at a variety of activity providers. You can apply for a voucher now until 17 March for use before the 12th of May.
https://nt.gov.au/leisure/sport/sport-and-swim-vouchers/sport-voucher-scheme-urban/get-sport-vouchers-for-your-child All children living in an urban area and enrolled in school (including homeschool) are eligible to receive two $100 sports vouchers each year. One in January and one in July, for sport, recreation, and cultural activities. All vouchers expire on 31 May each year.
https://www.sportsvouchers.sa.gov.au/ All primary school-aged children who are SA residents are eligible to receive a $100 voucher each calendar year. This includes Reception to Year 7 children, even when Year 7 is attended in a high school. These vouchers are intended to use as a discount on fees for sporting, dance, and swimming activities.
https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/funding/sport-and-recreation-funding/kidsport/information-for-parents All children between the ages of 5 and 18 who are WA residents and listed on a Health Care Concession or Pensioner card are eligible for a $150 Kidsport Voucher to use at a variety of activity providers. The activity providers must be approved Kidsport providers.
https://www.communities.tas.gov.au/ticket-to-play All children between the ages of 5 and 18 who are Tasmanian residents and listed on a Health Care Concession or Pensioner card are eligible for two $100 Ticket to Play Voucher to use at a variety of activity providers. You can apply online for the vouchers.
We also suggest you set a per term or per year budget and stick to it. Shop around for the best price for the activity your child is interested in – understanding that once they start somewhere changing providers is not always an option due to relationships they will quickly build.
If you’re looking to start your child off and are not sure what to look into first, club sport such as soccer, cricket, and netball are often less costly than options like gymnastics, martial arts, and dance.
School fees & Voluntary Contributions
School fees are an unfortunate side effect of choosing to send your children to private school. The best way to manage this is to make sure you are budgeting for the cost. We would also suggest that you make sure your Emergency Fund is looking healthy as the last thing you want to do is dip into your school fee savings for any unforeseen circumstances.
Outside of that, we suggest knowing the policy of your school. Can you pay your bill annually on a per term basis or more frequently? Is there a financial advantage of paying them annually versus on a per term basis? Have a chat with the school if you need to and work out the most effective way for you to pay your fees.
As the name suggests these contributions are voluntary. The aim of them is to enhance the sporting and educational materials and facilities.
It is well within your rights to ask the school for an indication of where these contributions go if you are trying to make a decision about whether to pay them or not.
Often schools will invoice you for these contributions on the fee invoice, however, the government insists these are voluntary with the decision of whether to pay in the hands of the parents.
Here is more information about voluntary contributions – https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/voluntary-school-contribution.
Other contributions you may be asked to make are to the P&C (Parents and Carer’s) group. Sometimes this contribution will be asked for in lieu of helping out at the school, and sometimes to contribute to the areas of the school the P&C looks after. This can be things like the tuckshop, the library, and the playground equipment to name a few. The P&C will have records, often easily accessible where you can see where they have historically allocated their funds, and what priorities they have for the future.
Excursions, camps & school extras
It’s worth checking in with your school (if you don’t already know) to find out if they are having a camp for your child’s school year. From experience, the camps tend to cost between $300 and $900 depending on age, location, and length. Most schools could give you an indication before the school year starts.
You might want to set a budget for excursions as well, often it will depend on the school and the child’s year level. Again you could ask the school for an indication of how much excursions cost the previous year and choose a figure slightly higher to put in your budget.
School sports will differ between public and private schools. In public schools, a large portion of the cost associated is for transport. PSSA (Primary School Sports Association) will often cost between $80 and $120 per term for each child. The cost for a term of high school sport in a public school is pretty comparable. On the other hand, sport at private schools will vary significantly, sometimes with children requiring a different uniform for each sport.
About MoneyBrilliant and how we can help
At MoneyBrilliant we believe that when people make better decisions about their money they live better lives. We can help you get your finances sorted, understand your spending, find banking products that will earn you more or cost you less, set savings goals, build a plan to own your home, track important insurance details, get your debt under control and build a retirement plan. MoneyBrilliant Plus customers can also join our money coaching programs. Whatever your starting point, we can help.