Parents can save on school supplies by shopping around
The costs involved in back to school stationery and textbooks add up pretty quickly for parents Tim and Brooke Watson. And their children are only in primary school.
The Watson family: Tim and Brooke and (left to right) Pia, Evie and Roy.
The pair fork out about $180 on books and pens for Evie (8) and Roy (7) combined.
Their youngest, Pia (4), will be in kindergarten this year and doesn’t need books but will next year, meaning they will have to dig deep to find another $90 for her school books. And the cost of textbooks once the kids are older could double.
The school sends out a list of required books needed for the year ahead, which it fills with the school’s preferred supplier. However, Tim doesn’t think he’s getting bang for his buck.
“I’m confident we can get it cheaper. We’re definitely going to shop around this year,” he said.
As back to school time rolls around, parents across the country are digging deep to fill compulsory school book lists.
However, new research shows that parents are overspending on school stationery by an incredible $37.8 million by fulfilling their school list directly from their schools, instead of looking for alternatives.
The average booklist of children aged between five and 17 sets families back $176 per child.
A state breakdown shows that stationery is most expensive for Victorian families, who spend an average of $250 per child.
The national survey, conducted by Officeworks, found that 42 per cent of parents stated that the price of the items is the most important factor for purchasing book supplies. Despite this, four out of 10 parents continue to shop directly with school suppliers for convenience.
Only a third of parents report their child’s school offers cheaper alternatives for purchasing the back-to-school book list. Yet more than three in four parents actively look for ways to save money when preparing for back to school.
The survey found 39 per cent of parents have researched a different source for their child’s school books.
Parents of older children are particularly concerned with saving money; 84 per cent of 15-17 year-olds report that they look for cheaper alternatives. These parents are also more likely to rely on second-hand textbooks, the survey found.
The research, conducted by research firm Data2Decisions for Officeworks, surveyed 1004 parents with children aged between five and 17.
Officeworks spokesperson Jim Berndelis says: “It never ceases to amaze us just how many parents still don’t realise that there’s a more affordable option to fulfil book lists."
'Parents wanting to be savvy with their school list spending are encouraged to seek a smarter alternative.'
“Our data tells us that when parents use our School List Service, they save an average of $24.54 per child, and with three in four parents wanting to be savvy with their spending at this time of year, we’re encouraging them to seek a smarter alternative,” he says.
Other ways to cut back on costs include reusing stationery, such as pens and scissors, from the previous years.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's MoneySmart website, families can also save costs by looking out for sale items, sticking to a list and aiming for cheap and durable items that will last, as opposed to brand-name items.
Consider shopping at discount stores, supermarkets or bulk stationery stores known for good prices and be sure to clearly label everything you child takes to school, the site advises.
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