If you're feeling the pinch as you prepare to get your kids ready for the new school year, these budget busters will help you make your money go further!

We have a number of ways to avoid the back to school blues where budget is concerned. How would we ever get through life without experienced peers and the internet of course, offering up life hacks for those in need?!

Although effective budgeting always helps, Kiwis are feeling the pinch every new year when it’s time for their kids to return to school. Not to say that it wasn’t stressful enough just getting through the holidays! That came with its own set of expenses and drama that we’d much rather leave in the past, if possible. 

It's the time of year that parents start taking stock of all the school supplies, textbooks, and stationery that they’ll need for the schooling year ahead. Without even getting started with sports and extramural activities, you’ll find yourself sitting with a pretty high figure. It’s for this precise reason that many New Zealanders are having to resort to a short-term loan to cover the costs.

It’s at this time of the year that the average Kiwi household is already spreading their money quite thinly. But enough of that, let’s talk about avoiding the budget back to school blues.

Make a back-to-school list

Even though the holiday season may be long gone, making a list is still an excellent method to keep track of the back to school supplies you’re going to need for your kids for the year ahead.

A shopping list is just one of the many money saving tips you need to stick to. It might sound odd, but surveys show that 57% of people who shop with a list spend less money than those who aimlessly walk up and down the aisles grabbing whatever they see. 

A list also helps you stick to your spending limits. When you have a list with a budget, then you’ll stick to it! School kids come home with a massive shopping list for the following year, so you’re already one up on your steps!

Another little life lesson that you can tie in with the shopping experience, is to take your kids along with you and teach them a little about spending, budgeting and what a ‘want’ versus a ‘need’ is.

Beat the back-to-school blues by saving on a lunch plan

The most cost-effective way to feed your kids is to buy the food in preparation for meal planning. That way you have all you need for each day of the week and no more hair pulling moments in the morning while you’re trying to apply makeup, brush your teeth and pack your kids’ lunches.

It also saves time since you no longer have to try and figure out what to feed them. There are very seldom times in life where planning was the wrong move. So, avoid the frantic rush and easy handing over cash for lunch method and make sure each day is planned for.

You’ll be saving money, time, and it keeps your stress levels in check too! Another savings tip from this point is that you’ll be saving your children’s health by planning good healthy meals.

Search high & low for supply specials

You may very well think it’s best or easier to buy everything new, but the truth is that you’ll be dipping further into a budget that you can afford to. School supplies are hellishly expensive and there’s absolutely no reason to buy everything new. Take a look around your house – everywhere. Check your children’s bags, they will definitely have items from the previous years.

Items such as rulers, pencil bags, pairs of scissors etc, those are all items that you likely don’t need to replace. This can save you a lot of time and money. Chances are that you’ve already ticked off half the list when you’re done with this handy tip.

Why buy new when you can go for second hand?

Every child, if they’re not the first born, has the unfortunate pleasure of having to make due with hand-me-downs. When it comes to their school clothing, why should it be any different? Provided they’re in need of the same items of clothing, the child who no longer fits into his school shirts can hand them down to his brother.

You might be welcomed with a less than happy face since they’re wearing their older sibling’s used clothes, but hey, when they start earning their own money, they’ll get a say!

If you have a boy and a girl and the hand-me-down scenario ain't going to fly, then head to your local thrift store, second-hand shops or garage sale. Sometimes the school even has a second-hand shop filled with all kinds of good condition second-hand good and clothing that are specific to that school.

It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, second-hand can be cool. If there is an old suitcase or satchel that your older child had, the second child can do some graffiti on it, or patch it up with a few cool patches. Either way, there’s a way to personalise it to the new owner!

Loans for back-to-school supplies

In the event that you are unable to afford the back to school supplies that your children needs you may need to consider taking out a personal loan.

There are many different types of personal loans on the market and the type that you choose will depend on how much you need and how much you can afford to repay every month. 

Even when getting a loan to buy school supplies you should shop around and try to find the most affordable loans available to you. 

Finally, we can say ‘adios’ to the back-to-school blues 

To all parents out there, with your children embarking on the next grade and essentially the next step in their life, you want to be present to experience it, not distracted, caught up and stressed out. If you’re able to plan enough so that you can afford everything, you can be the parent you want to be!

A little financial planning and preparation, and a good eye for sales and bargains can turn a bad day into a good day – every day! Now you have ample time to enjoy those precious moments with your kids, save some money and beat the clichéd back to school blues!