How to budget for back to school costs


The contents provided on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice. Consider your personal circumstances and objectives before making any financial decisions. 

As the new school year rolls around, it's time to get your kids ready for their next big adventure.

But with the rising cost of living, budgeting for back-to-school expenses in Australia can be a bit of a juggling act. Don't worry, though! We've got some savvy tips to help you navigate back-to-school costs and find those cheap deals on essentials.

Understand Your Back to School Checklist

Understanding your back to school checklist is important for effective budgeting. Start by creating a detailed list of everything your child needs for the upcoming school year. This includes uniforms, stationery, textbooks, and technology. To avoid unnecessary purchases, cross-reference this list with items you may already have from the previous year.

Quick Tip: Check out the Education Services Australia  and Department of Education for online resources support learning and wellbeing from home. 

Plan Your Back to School Budget Early

Early planning can save you a bundle. Begin setting aside a small amount each week or month well before the school year commences. This proactive approach can help spread the cost over a more extended period, which could make it more manageable for your budget.

Useful Tool: Beforepay's budgeting tool can assist you in allocating funds for school expenses in a structured way.  Give it a try to streamline your financial planning.

If you feel like you have started budgeting for this year's back to school cost a bit late, and your pay cycles are irregular or fortnightly, consider using Beforepay to help you cash out your pay early.

Hunt for Back to School Bargains

Sales and discounts are your best friends. Keep a keen eye out for back-to-school sales at major retailers like Officeworks and Big W. These stores often feature great deals on stationery and tech gadgets, helping you secure quality items at lower prices.

Don’t Miss: Subscribe to newsletters from your favourite stores to receive early notifications of sales. Additionally, platforms like OzBargain and BargainsOnline can be a valuable resource for finding and sharing the latest deals.

Find Second-Hand Back to School Supplies 

Buying second-hand is both economical and eco-friendly. Explore websites like Gumtree or local Facebook groups for gently used uniforms and textbooks. Not only does this approach save money, but it also contributes to sustainable and responsible consumption.

Community Tip: Check out school notice boards or community centres for swap meets or second-hand sales. Websites like TradingPost and eBayAustralia can connect you with individuals selling second-hand items, offering a diverse marketplace for budget-friendly purchases.

Use Government Assistance Back to School Vouchers

You might be eligible for some help. The Australian Government offers various forms of school-related financial assistance. This can include subsidies for textbooks, uniforms, or even travel. Look out for back to school vouchers!

Check It Out:  Visit Services Australia to explore available assistance programs.

Plan Back to School Meals and Snacks

Food costs can add up. Planning and preparing home-packed lunches and snacks can be significantly cheaper than buying from the school canteen.

Recipe Resources:

  • Smart Shopping Lists: Create a well-planned shopping list before hitting the stores. Use tools like Cozi to create and share lists, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Budget-Friendly Meal Planning: Plan meals that are not only delicious but also budget-conscious. Websites like Cooking Light and Budget Bytes offer family-friendly recipes. 
  • Discount Apps for Groceries: Explore money-saving apps such as Shopkick and Ibotta to earn cash-back and rewards on your grocery purchases
  • DIY Convenience Foods: Save on pre-packaged snacks by preparing your own convenience foods. Websites like EatingWell provide recipes for homemade snacks suitable for travel.
  • Local Farmers' Markets: Explore local farmers' markets for fresh produce at reasonable prices. Websites like Farmers Markets Australia help you locate markets near you.

Save on Back to School Technology

Tech doesn't have to break the bank. If your child needs a device, consider refurbished models. They are often much cheaper and just as good as new ones.

Where to Look: Apple's Refurbished Store or JB Hi-Fi’s pre-owned section are good starting points. For parents with children going into university check out Apple’s student discount for Uni students.

Online learning resources:

Keep Track of your Back to School Spending

Monitoring your expenses is crucial. Use budgeting apps or a simple spreadsheet to keep track of your back to school spending. This will help you stay on track and make adjustments as needed.

Recommended App: The Beforepay app not only helps with budgeting but also provides cash advances for when you need fast money for those unexpected school expenses.

Additional Back to School Resources for Parents


  • CHOICE, an independent consumer advocacy group, offers a comprehensive guide for back-to-school shopping, including product reviews and tips on getting the best value for money.
  • Look here for their article on how to choose the best school shoes. 

Student Edge

  • Student Edge offers discounts and deals for students on various products and services. Parents can explore this platform to find savings on technology, stationery, and more.


  • OzBargain is a community-driven platform that shares the latest deals and discounts across a wide range of categories, including back to school supplies.

Raising Children

  • Raising Children, an Australian parenting website, provides practical advice on budgeting for school costs, including tips on uniforms, books, and extracurricular activities.


  • Edutopia is a website providing teachers and parents with research-based resources and insights on effective teaching strategies in K-12 education. Like their 15 Questions to replace ‘How was school today?’

    Disclaimer: Beforepay Group Ltd, ABN: 63 633 925 505. Beforepay allows eligible customers to access their pay and provides budgeting tools. Beforepay does not provide financial products, financial advice or credit products. The views provided in this article include factual information and the personal opinions of relevant Beforepay staff and do not constitute financial advice. Beforepay and its related bodies corporate make no representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of the contents of this blog post and do not accept any liability for any loss whatsoever arising from the use of this information. Please read our Terms of Service carefully before deciding whether to use any of our services.