Take the sting out of back to school costs

The start of the school year is just around the corner and with it, back to school costs.  

A mother and her two children, sitting on stairs and smiling

Back to school time can be a huge financial stress on families with many parents spending hundreds of dollars on books, uniforms, equipment, laptops, excursions, and fees, and just after the holiday season.

Saver Plus is a free matched savings and financial education program that can help ease the stress, by matching your savings for school costs, dollar for dollar, up to $500.

Single mother of two Casey, says that before participating in Saver Plus she struggled to find the money needed to pay for her daughters’, Tahlia (10) and Kiara (8), school expenses.

'As a single parent, I always found it hard to juggle my finances and manage buying two sets of everything at back to school time,' she says.

'The girls’ book lists alone cost more than $400 combined, and then there’s the uniforms, fees and extra-curricular activities on top of that.'

Casey heard about Saver Plus through her daughters’ school, and once she joined she received support from a Saver Plus Coordinator who helped her set a goal to save for back to school costs, putting aside $25 a fortnight over 10 months.

On finishing the program, her savings, which totalled $500, were matched dollar for dollar.

Casey says that with Saver Plus she’s now more prepared than ever for the new school year.

'It’s the best feeling knowing that Tahlia and Kiara are not going to miss out,' she says.

'They’ll have all their books, uniforms that fit, comfortable quality shoes, and all ready for them on day one. I don’t have to tell them to wait until next pay.'

Saver Plus participants also complete several financial education workshops, known as MoneyMinded, which teach money management skills.

Casey says that with the skills she’s learnt she feels confident in her ability to be financially independent.

'It’s very scary going into the world of being a single mum and wondering how you’re going to do it and how you’re going to get by,' she says.

'Now I’m much more relaxed and confident that I will continue saving and will always have money behind me to not only support my girls, but also be able to do fun things with them and give them the extras in life.'

Back to School savings tips from Saver Plus

  • ask your school for an expenses list to see if you can pay for any costs via installments, such as school camps and excursions
  • develop a budget and do your research to find the best 'back to school' bargains
  • hold a get-together with school parents, with children of different ages, to exchange children’s school clothing
  • add children’s names to all school items, so that any lost property is more likely to be returned.
  • buy school supplies in bulk that you know will be used regularly.

Who is eligible?

You may be eligible to join Saver Plus if you: 

  • have a Centrelink Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card
  • are at least 18 years old
  • have some regular income from work (you or your partner) including casual, part-time, full-time or seasonal employment 
  • have a child at school or attend vocational education yourself.
Button linking to enquiry form

Saver Plus was developed in 2003 by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and ANZ, and is now delivered in 60 locations across Australia, in every state and territory, with the help of Berry Street, The Benevolent Society, The Smith Family, and other community organisations.

Contact us

Phone 1300 610 355
SMS your name and postcode to 1300 610 355
Email saverplus(at)bsl.org.au

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse. Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

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