Parents spending a total of $3.8 billion on back to school- here’s how to save

Remy Taylor

07 Jan 2019

Item word back to school stuff desk content

With only a couple of weeks until school’s back, a new report from Big W has found Australian parents are set to fork out a total of $3.8 billion on back to school items.

The cost of uniforms, shoes, backpacks, stationery and lunches are all on the minds of Aussie parents who plan to spend an average of $476 on school preparation this year - according to the report which surveyed more than 1000 parents. The two biggest costs were shoes and uniforms, averaging at $220 per child.

That’s a total spend of over $3.8 billion on back to school expenses for Australia’s 4.6 million kids.

Mozo’s Tom Godfrey said back to school costs can be a big financial hit to families after Christmas time. “With family finances often under pressure following the Christmas retail frenzy, back to school expenses can ring an untimely bell,” he said.

Godfrey suggests the trick to back to school financial survival is to plan ahead and avoid last minute scrambling.

“Sticking to a budget, saving and looking past marketing hype are great lessons to learn before walking back in the school gate,” he said.

RELATED: 3 money conversations to have before your kids go back to school

Despite 81% of Aussie parents confirming they’re hitting the shops for their kids' new school year supplies straight after Christmas, there’s still 46% who confessed to last-minute shopping.

VIC parents take out first place as Australia’s top back to school spenders at $530 per child followed by QLD ($482), NSW ($456), WA ($439) and SA ($401).

So, you could let impulse buying spoil your budget or you can aim for a more organised, inexpensive back to school shopping experience by following Mozo’s top back to school tips.

Mozo’s Back to School Saving Tips

1. Write a list for each child and set a budget

Write your back to school list early. That way you can work out what needs replacing and have your kids learn about budgeting and the price premiums brands charge for similar products.

2. Snag second-hand items

Ask family members and other parents at the school for hand me downs or the school uniform shop for second-hand items at reduced prices. “If you can make last year’s uniform work until term starts, the second-hand uniform shop can be your ticket to serious savings,” Godfrey said.

3. Compare prices online and in-store

One benefit to getting in early is having time to shop around online. Although only 22% of parents prefer in-store back to school shopping. Getting a good grasp of prices online and in-store might mean snagging a deal, especially when it comes to big-ticket items.

4. Look for big-ticket items in the post-Christmas sales

Cut-costs by searching for post-Christmas bargains, or even plan a day of family sales shopping. Make sure you take a proper look around, you might even snatch up an affordable, new laptop or quality shoes.

5. Decorate your own generic notebooks and avoid pricey big brand names 

Replace the expensive, trendy notebooks and bags with generic brands and have your kids design and decorate them with their own art. “Getting your kids to customise their own products will not only save you money - it’s fun,” Godfrey said.

6. Buy items that can pull double-duty

It’s all about getting the best bang for your buck. Whether that means purchasing versatile sneakers that suit school and sport or opting for inexpensive, quality leather without the brand name. “With kids growing so fast splashing out on a pricey pair might not end up being the best value for money,” Godfrey said.

8. Put your child’s name on all items and buy an extra hat - you’ll need it!

If you like it, then you should put a label on it! This way if anything gets misplaced, it will have your child’s name on it and will be returned to you. Make sure it’s written extra large so if another child takes your child’s hat home with them, their parents will soon realise it’s not theirs.

9. Open a savings account and start a savings plan for next year

Now that you’ve got a grasp on back to school planning, why not get extra organised with a savings account dedicated only to budgeting for school expenses. Start putting away $5 or $10 a week and this time next year the back to school shop should be a breeze.

Get started finding a spot for your 2019 savings stash - head over to our savings account section and check out a list of hot savings accounts.

Savings Accounts 2019

Rates updated daily. Advertiser disclosure.

  • Promoted

    Virgin Money

    Virgin Money

    Boost Saver with Go Account

    1.50% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.10% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    *Intro bonus rate of 1.50% for first 3 months, reverting to 1.20% after. Bonus interest only applies when you deposit $2,000 into your Go Account and make 5 debit card purchases, direct debit or BPAY payments in the previous month. If you are between 18 and 25 you need to deposit $1,000 and fulfil the other criteria.

  • Promoted

    Bank of Queensland

    Bank of Queensland

    Fast Track Saver Account

    1.05% p.a. (for $1 to $250,000)

    0.05% p.a.(for $1 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    *Ongoing bonus rate applied if in the previous month $1,000 or more is credited to the linked Day2Day Plus account and 5 eligible transactions are made by the linked account.

  • Promoted



    High Interest Savings Account

    1.35% p.a. (for $0 to $250,001)

    0.25% p.a.(for $0 to $250,001)

    Yes up to $250,000

    *Bonus rate for the first 4 months from account opening, reverting to standard variable rate. Rate shown is for Personal customers and is subject to change. Different rates apply to Business/SMSF customers.

  • Promoted

    Virgin Money

    Virgin Money

    Grow Saver

    0.65% p.a. (for $0 and over)

    0.10% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    *Make at least 1 deposit and no more than 1 withdrawal, including internal transfers or external payments.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Savings accounts Awards