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Putting kids through ‘free’ public school in Australia can still be an expensive business. Here are some smart ways to cut down and cover the costs of putting kids through school…

Let’s start by going through all the expenses associated with primary and high school education that we can make savings on…

Textbooks: Search online for second-hand deals on the books you need; Join school/parent social-media groups and let them know what you’re looking for – people often sell or even give old books away just to get them out of the house; Remember to sell your child’s books when they’re no longer needed, to help pay for next year’s.

Stationery: Instead of going shopping with your kids and buying what they want, make a list of what’s really required; Search ‘Best price on…’ online for what you’re after on sale (and consider ‘Click’n’collect’ to save on delivery) rather than facing crowded stores with empty shelves; Make sure you label everything before school starts so it doesn’t get lost.

Laptops and devices: Before buying, ask family, friends and other school parents (including school social-media forums) if anyone is getting rid of their ‘old tech’ (which is often only a year or two old); If you can’t find or buy the tech you’re after, again, make sure you search online for ‘Best price on…’. The earlier you can start looking the better your chances of finding what you need on sale; Some suppliers offer student discounts as well as refurbished models a year or two older with the same warranty as brand-new stock.

Clothes and uniforms: Schools usually offer second-hand clothing from the previous year, but if not, ask other parents from school about outgrown uniforms; Whether you’re purchasing new or second-hand, always try to find clothing in a slightly larger (within reason!) size so it’ll be wearable longer – having to un-roll sleeves or let down trouser legs is a lot cheaper than forking out for brand-new clothes.

School lunches, snacks and drinks: Although it’s a bit more work, preparing lunches at home makes for big savings – even if you have to ‘teach’ your child how to make their own lunch; Buying drinks daily is really expensive – if good ol’ water doesn’t cut it, consider filling water-bottles with juice or something you’ve bought in bulk; That goes for snacks too – it’s much cheaper to buy fruit or something healthy in bulk than shelling out for another pack of chips or chocolate bar each day.

Sporting-wear/equipment: Football boots or a new cricket-bat can make a great Christmas or birthday present, which means not having to buy them later when school starts; As with items above, shop around online for the best prices/deals and, again, be sure to label everything.

Everyday transport costs: Depending on how far away school is, riding or walking is much cheaper (and better exercise) than driving or public transport, even if it means buying a bike or scooter (again, think birthday/Christmas present); If riding or walking isn’t practical then make sure you’re buying public transport tickets in the most economical way possible, e.g. an annual pass instead of daily or weekly tickets; If anyone nearby drives into school ask about carpooling – even if it means offering some ‘petrol money’ for the savings you’ll make.

After making whatever savings you can, you still might be asking: Yeah, but how do I pay for school-related expenses when money’s tight? It can be tempting to put it on the credit card, or sign up for Buy-Now-Pay-Later deals or short-term ‘payday’ loans, but these come with their own risks.

There are subsidies and financial relief available for education costs – and we definitely recommend you check to see what you’re eligible for – but when you’ve done all the cost-cutting you can, and applied for any available financial aid, you can still end up needing help covering costs…

And that’s where Good Shepherd’s No-Interest Loans (or ‘NILs’) come in. NILs can be used by eligible applicants for education costs and a host of other necessities. They’re genuinely interest-free and include no hidden charges or fees.

Find out more about Good Shepherd’s No-Interest Loans.