Budgeting for the School Year: 5 Money Saving Tips

Starting your year in a mad back-to-school rush for stationery and uniforms is bad for the nerves… and your wallet! Here’s how to avoid it.

Re-entering normal life after the freedom, food and fun of holiday time can be an awful jolt… especially when the transition involves getting ready for school. The sudden rush for stationery and uniforms not only chases away your holiday Zen, it further deepens that festive season dent in your wallet.

But with a little bit of prep and thought throughout the year, you can make sure next January isn’t such a shock! Try out these money-saving tips this year:

  1. Get smarter with your money
    Often schools offer a discount if you pay termly or yearly rather than every month. If you’re lucky enough to get a 13th cheque (and still have some of it), pay off your first term and then save monthly to pay off the next. Another way of raising funds for the first termly payment, is to ask family for school fee contributions instead of festive gifts. If monthly payments are your only option and there are 10 instalments a year, safeguard those two extra instalments for school supplies. And finally, the age-old practice of putting a little away each month can make that start-of-year stationery shop far less painful.
  2. Go for nearly new
    Find the second-hand school shop and use it! Take along any items that became too small too quickly and you’ll leave with things you need, for less than half the spend! If you’re lucky, they’ll do sports equipment too but if not, don’t forget websites like Gumtree or OLX.
  3. Chase the sales
    Stationery lists never change very much and neither do school shoes, so whenever you see a sale, check if they’ve got HB pencils or white takkies in the next size. Keep birthday presents in mind too, so that you can smile as you wrap up the half-priced book that you didn’t have to dash out for specially.
  4. It’s all in the name
    Name tags may seem expensive, but they’re much cheaper than replacing the items that get lost! You may be able to read the name you’ve squeezed onto the clothes tag in permanent marker, but can everyone else? Give your children’s possessions that best chance possible of being returned to them, by labelling each and every one, from water bottles to underwear.
  5. Pack lunches
    Sending tuck shop money may be easier, but home-made lunch can save a lot each month and gives you the chance to pack healthier food. It’s also good to remember that a new year doesn’t have to mean a new themed lunchbox, matching bottle and satchel – use the old ones for as long as possible, or just grab a container from that overflowing Tupperware drawer.

Use this year to make some tweaks and form new habits, and by year-end you’ll reap the rewards. Not only should you have more left in the bank, you’ll have most of what you need before the holiday starts and will be able to ease into the next New Year, relaxed and calm.


Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.