It’s that time of year again: a new school year is approaching and you might be starting to think about getting everyone’s back-to-school supplies sorted. For many families, it can be one of the year’s biggest shops, so buying smarter and making the most of savings can make a big difference to your budget.
We asked a group of experienced parents for their tips for stress-free back-to-school shopping on a budget to help you get all the gear, gadgets and accessories your kids need to start the new year back at school without breaking a sweat or the bank.
Have a Plan and Make a List
“Before I start shopping, I write a big list of everything we need,” says Shona Childs, who, with Thomas Olsen, parents two primary school-aged students and a one-year-old baby. “While I’m writing my list, I search my kids’ bedrooms and the cupboards to check for leftover stuff from last year. There’s always a pack of pencils or a notebook or two that we didn’t use.”
Shopping with a list is probably the best idea to help with saving time and money. Many schools provide a list of required supplies, so it’s worth checking in to see if your school has one. Using a list can help you make sure you only buy exactly what you need and it makes it easier to compare products and prices.
Officeworks’ School List Service has a very handy price-comparison feature, so you can see exactly how much you can save. Head to the website, upload your school list and Officeworks will match the items, finding you the best price. When you are happy with the selection, pay online, then it’s only a matter of collecting it all on a day and from a store that’s handy for you using Click & Collect. Too easy!
And if you shop for more than one child on the one order, your supplies will be packed together to help reduce Officeworks' environmental impact, but you can always place individual orders if you would prefer each child’s supplies to be packed separately.
Busy mum of three Krystal Dahaby tested out the School List Service for her school age girls and was grateful that it meant “One less thing that I have to do in the New Year, so I have more time to just be a mum.”
Buy in Bulk
Kate Robinson’s children are aged 11 and 9, and the mum is an expert at back-to-school shopping. Her never-fail tip? Take advantage of bulk-buy offers – these are often better value than buying individual items – and store extras away for a rainy day. “The kids run out of stuff all the time, throughout the year, so I always keep a stash of spare school supplies handy,” she says. “I stock up on stuff like glue, pencils, notebooks, rulers, pens and liquid paper. I especially like to keep a stash of things they lose the lids of, like whiteboard markers and highlighters.”
Hot Tip: Instead of adding a couple of pens or a single glue stick to your cart, invest in a box or larger pack. That way, you can use some now and save the rest for later in the year – Kate keeps a shoebox in her cupboard that’s filled to the brim with spare supplies.
Save on Delivery
It pays to do your research, says Thomas. “I try to take advantage of free or cheap delivery options.”
When you order from Officeworks you can get free metro delivery on orders over $55. If you live in regional or country areas, check the Officeworks site, as your delivery fee may be as low as $5.95. Or opt for the free Click & Collect service and visit your nearest Officeworks store to pick up your order. All Officeworks delivery information can be found here.
Coordinate With Friends and Family
“I get the aunts and uncles to buy my kids cool pencil cases, fancy pencils, colourful drink bottles and lunch boxes for Christmas presents,” says savvy shopper and mum Allison Kilkeary. She makes the most of Christmas and birthdays and asks friends and family to pitch in and buy the “fun” school supplies for her 12- and 9-year-old. This idea is genius because it saves you money and outsources a lot of the legwork, which can be a real drag when January hits.
Personalised products, such as water bottles, laptop sleeves, pencil cases, and backpacks are clever gift ideas that can serve double-duty as a unique present while helping to prevent your child from ending up losing their school essentials. Just allow 7-10 business days for custom items.
Ask for Advice
Primary teacher (and mum to two preschoolers) Elizabeth Charlton says it’s worth consulting with the school or your child’s teacher for their preferences and recommendations with respect to stationery and other supplies. Choosing hard-working products designed for the job is the best way to make sure your back-to-school budget goes further. “Teachers love better-quality products as cheap pencils just break and need sharpening so frequently that you end up buying twice as many,” she says. “And the best glue sticks are big ones that kids can easily grip – I like the blue or purple ones so they can see where the glue is actually going.”
Another point to consider is labelling all of their gear: “Kids lose things immediately, so I would label every single thing and get kids familiar with what their labels look like.” Labelling can save you money as it’s much cheaper than replacing lost items on a regular basis.
Ask your child to help design and choose their own unique name labels then get them to help you get all their school supplies ready with their name proudly front and centre on all their books and stationery.
Find the Best Deal
“I love bargains,” says Sandra Helou, who’s a mum to a 6- and 3-year-old. She’s not the only one: many parents want to maximise their savings on back-to-school shopping. Last year, parents saved, on average, 25% on their school list prices when shopping with Officeworks. Stay ahead of good deals and everyday low prices by signing up for emails from Officeworks. Take advantage of the Parents’ Price Promise, too: if you find a lower price on an identical stocked item on an official school list, Officeworks will beat it by 20%.
Save on All the School Supplies They Need at Every Age
We’ve chosen some of the best-value and hardest-working school essentials to help you save money this back-to-school season. Whether it’s all the art supplies, glue, scissors and pencils that little learners need, or the books, pens, tech and tech accessories that will take your younger student through to high school, we’ve got you covered for well-priced, long-lasting products to help you nail back to school in 2022 without breaking the budget.
What To Try: Preschool/ Early Primary School
For little learners, stock up on art supplies, including paints and crayons. School starters need quality lead pencils (jumbo styles are ace for mastering the correct grip!), as well as a sharpener and eraser, plus scissors and glue for cut-and-paste learning activities.
- Crayola Washable Neon Paints 10 Pack
- Kadink Grip Paintbrushes 5 Pack
- Studymate Barrel 2 Hole Sharpener Blue
- Studymate Greener Choice Glue Stick 40g
- Studymate Greener Choice Eraser Large
- First Creations Easi-Grip Crayons 12 Pack
- Crayola My First School Safety Scissors 3 Pack
- Staedtler Natural Jumbo Triangular Graphite Pencils HB 3 Pack
What To Try: Primary School
This might be the time when kids start bringing a tablet or laptop to school, so fit them out with the right accessories like wireless headphones and a protective case. Other essentials include ballpoint pens, exercise books and a mini whiteboard for jotting down lists or working through maths problems.
- Targus Universal 7-8" Foliostand Black
- Lenovo Tab M7 3rd Gen 7" 32GB Tablet
- Studymate 9x7" 70gsm 8mm Ruled Exercise Book 96 Page
- Keji Wireless Headphones Black
- Keji 216 x 279mm Mini Whiteboard Black
- Expo Whiteboard Markers Chisel Fashion Assorted 4 Pack
- J.Burrows Ballpoint Pens Assorted 10 Pack
What To Try: Middle School (Years 7-9)
Starting high school is a major milestone. Ensure they’re prepared for all that extra homework with highlighters, coloured pens, a student diary and dictionary, plus a sturdy backpack to cart it all around in as part of your back-to-school shop.
- J. Burrows 15.6" Recycled Backpack Navy
- Stabilo 6 Pack Swing Cool Highlighters Assorted Pastel
- Australian Mini Oxford Dictionary 5th Edition
- Studymate A5 Week to View 2022 Student Diary Terrazzo
- J.Burrows Erasable Gel Pens 0.7mm Assorted 8 Pack
What To Try: Senior High School
It’s time to get serious about studying. Help them on their academic journey with organisation essentials like sticky notes, planners and to-do lists. Tech wise, invest in clever gadgets to make their computer set-up super user-friendly. Think a wireless mouse and keyboard, earbuds, and portable chargers and hard drives.
- Post-it Recycled Super Sticky Notes 76x76mm Helsinki 6 Pack
- Seagate 2TB OneTouch Portable Hard Drive Black
- Comsol 10,000mAh Dual-Port Mini Powerbank Grey
- Otto TW300 True Wireless Earbuds Blue TW300
- Logitech Wireless Mouse Blue M171
- J.Burrows Bluetooth Keyboard Silver KB200
- J.Burrows Weekly Planner Board 280 x 360mm