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'Too much to handle': Aussie parents face brutal $780 back to school bill

·2-min read
Father does personal finances at home at desk, close image of person using eftpos machine to pay for school expenses.
School is about to start and it's going to cost hundreds. (Sources: Getty)

Australian parents will spend as much as $780 in the back-to-school rush, with finance experts calling on shoppers to take simple steps to save.

The average family will spend $780 on supplies for a secondary school student, including textbooks, uniforms and stationery, new Finder analysis of Kmart, Officeworks and Athletes Foot spending data has revealed.

It’s slightly lower for primary school children, with families spending $570 on essential supplies.

“It’s been a rough few years for Aussie families and, for some, the cost of textbooks, uniforms and laptops is too much to handle,” Finder personal finance expert and mother Kate Browne said.

“Many struggle to foot the back-to-school bill, hot on the heels of Christmas expenses.”

After the Christmas spending blow-out, January could just add more financial pressures for families, she added.

Excursions cost the average family of a primary school student $122 per year, and $267 for secondary school students.


Average primary school spend

Average secondary school spend

National spend

School supplies



$2.48 billion




$1.38 billion




$740 million

Sport equipment



$809 million




$2.07 billion




$20.3 billion

However, there are ways that parents can save, and it starts with a few simple acts, Browne said.

“When it comes to ‘loseable’ items like lunch boxes and water bottles, stick to budget-friendly brands. There’s no point in buying something fancy if you’re going to have to replace it six months later,” Browne said.

And, critically, labelling these items will go a long way. Replacing several versions of the same product throughout the year will quickly add up, so it makes sense to label everything.

“You can extend the life span of backpacks and shoes by shopping around for something durable, but keep in mind you’ll need to replace your kids’ shoes regularly as they grow,” Browne added.

“Avoid forking out on a new uniform every year by buying a few sizes up – it might look a bit large on them now but they’ll quickly grow into it.

“Start shopping early and look out for back-to-school sales. This can save you hundreds of dollars over the year, especially on pricey items like laptops.”

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