Natasha James and children Tyler, Isabella and Shelby Bruce shop for school supplies at the Back to School Outpost at Mount Pleasant Shopping Centre.
Natasha James and children Tyler, Isabella and Shelby Bruce shop for school supplies at the Back to School Outpost at Mount Pleasant Shopping Centre.

How soaring cost of school supplies blows budget

NATASHA JAMES is set to spend more than $800 on school supplies this year.

That's nearly double what she spent in 2019.

The Marian mum of three will send two of her three children off to school this year and no, they're not in high school - they're in Year 1 and 3.

"The big increase in the budget this year was an iPad for Isabella. All of grade 3 uses an iPad at Marian State School and we decided to invest in buying one rather than hire one, which you can do," Ms Williams said.

"Then, during the year, you have fees for many other things, it's definitely a hard time for the bank account."

Back to School shopping is this month set to create another financial headache for Australian families, who are expected to spend an average of $538 per child in 2020.

New data from YouGov's Annual Back to School Research Report has found the staggering cost of buying school supplies and uniforms has risen by $62 or 13 per cent on last year. Queensland is third highest state which is expected to spend $522 per child, up from $482.

On average, uniforms are expected to cost $156 per child, a rise of $24, school shoes will cost $97, up $9, and school bags will cost an extra $9 at $59 each. Lunch boxes and water bottles will cost $40, up $1 but stationery has dropped $8 price to an average of $79.

Another bill more parents were feeling the brunt of is technology, with an average cost of $242 per child for Bring Your Own Device programs in schools where students are required to have their own tablets or laptops. Parents also expect to spend an average of $84 per child on sporting gear.

When added on, they bring the total average 'back to school' spend up to a staggering $864 per child for 2020.

The Big W-commissioned research, based on 1053 parents, found 54 per cent said affordability was more important to them, and 43 per cent were concerned about the quality of products.

One in four parents said being able to buy supplies online and having them delivered was also important.

Seventy-seven per cent of parents with children aged 5-17 said they budget for these expenses, but only one in four (27 per cent) said they have a very detailed budget in place.

Two thirds (65 per cent) of parents said they always overspend as their children requested non-essential items when shopping.

However, mothers said they are better than dads at resisting "pester power", with 42 per cent saying they do not overspend, compared to just a quarter of dads.

Ms Williams said the children's books and supplies had come in at $360 from Mackay School Supplies at Mackay Showgrounds and the new iPad had cost $450.

She said that was a steep comparison to the $400 total she spent on school supplies, books and uniforms the previous year.

"I was able to laybuy the children's school supplies, so I just dropped the booklists off and they organise it all and then I drop off instalments each week until it's all paid for," she said.

"My advice is to find somewhere that offers laybuy - it has been really handy for our family."

Nextra Mount Pleasant business owner Troy Ross said the store's Back to School Outpost was off to a great start this year.

"While most of the back-to-school buying starts at the end of this week, we've seen parents more organised this year with sales off to a fantastic start."

"Exercise books are always a big seller, and we're in good communication with all of the local schools, so we know what to stock.

"But reusable book covers have been a very popular trend. They take hours out of school preparation and they're great for the environment. We've got heaps of popular designs."

Mr Ross admitted he had seen book list with an 'abundance of requirements' in the past few years but wanted to remind parents they did not have to buy everything on the booklist at once.

"If you come into our store we can help advise you of what your student may need for each term. This can help keep the price manageable."

Mr Ross said back to school was a market newsagents had been in for more than 100 years

"Newsagents are the experts when it comes to back to school, so please don't be afraid to ask for our help and advice."

Finance expert and author of Kill Bills!, Joel Gibson said costs were rising as lists were getting longer and devices used at school were more sophisticated.

"Create expectations in advance with your kids so they know what they can get and what the rules are, and don't take them along to the shops," he said.

"Go online before hitting the shops and negotiate what items your child can have and stick to the list.

"Get a jar, put $10 a week into it and don't touch it before January so it can help you get ahead when you need it for these costs, you'll have $520 right there."

 

 

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVING TIPS

1. Plan in advance.

"The research shows that early shoppers spend less. Just as you would with any other big ticket item, do your research, look around and compare brands and prices."

2. Leave the kids at home when you shop

"Pester power is real! Two-thirds of Aussie parents (65 per cent) say they overspend on Back to School supplies by buying non-essential items thanks to their eager shopping companions."

3. Get it online

"Purchasing behaviour is changing rapidly with the average proportion of online shopping for Back to School increasing by nearly 10 per cent from 2019."

4. Next year, try 'before pay'

"To minimise the impact on your household budget, forget 'Buy Now Pay Later' services and try a new service - it's called 'before pay': write 'before pay' on a large jar, stick $10 in it every week this year and by next January, you'll have $520."

Source: Money saving expert and author of Kill Bills!, Joel Gibson



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