Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Starting High School on a Budget

Madeleine starts high school in a few weeks. Holy crap on a cracker. I am beyond shocked that a. She is  no longer my cute little cabbage patch doll of a baby, and b. that I am old enough to have a daughter starting high school. When did I lose that time? I did notice that the Simpsons stopped being funny somewhere along the way.

Getting her started is EXPENSIVE. There is so much to buy in this first year of high school and alot of it is unavoidable. In order to kit Maddy out with a basic full uniform (schoolbag, x2 skirts and blouses, and x1 of everything else) it should have cost me over $800 but instead has cost me $380. And that's with a few new pieces included. Fingers crossed she doesn't grow for a few years because she will be squeeing into that blazer even if she does.
Praise the lord my daughters Catholic High School insists
on skirts being below the knee.

Frustratingly enough, I have had to buy the school resource pack, as there are regulation items (bible, combination lock, tech items) that I wouldn't be able to replicate. The majority of the stationary is cheap and nasty, and I wouldn't use it myself much less expect Maddy to use it at school. Thank goodness Year 7 is the only year I will have to do that, because the pack was a big fat waste of money.

These are my tips for starting school - they apply just as well to Kinder/Prep as they do to high school.

DON'T BE EMBARRASSED TO BUY SECOND HAND


Everything can be cleaned up, name labels can be changed, textbooks as well as uniforms. In Kinder/Prep and Year 7, most people buy new which means the second hand pickings are actually really good quality.

Our school doesn't have an onsite second hand clothing pool, although many schools do. Ours runs an online blog instead, which doesn't seem to be well used. I have been searching Gumtree, Ebay, Facebook garage sale sites, as well as local newspapers for uniforms and was lucky enough to find someone selling an almost full uniform at less than half price on Gumtree because her daughter tried the school but didn't like it for the last 3 weeks of last year. Don't restrict yourself to just your schools second hand pool because you never know when someone is advertising elsewhere.

Gumtree has also been a great source for used textbooks and I've paid less than half the cost of the RRP. Once I've cleaned the covers with turps, stuck a name label over the top of a previous owners name, and covered the book with contact, it looks pretty good. Just make sure you are buying the right edition of a textbook, as they are frequently updated and it's one thing to have a used book, another thing to have the wrong book.

DON'T LEAVE LOOKING FOR USED GOODS TILL THE LAST MINUTE

Check any sources of used textbooks or uniforms in your area regularly. Why let someone else snap up the bargain? 

You already know your child is going to grow, and you probably have a good idea about the pattern of their growth spurts. If you can snap up a blazer in the next size at a bargain price today, it's worth it for tomorrows budget. I started looking for our year 7 uniforms last year.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS SHOP AROUND

Don't use the school textbook or resource pack provider. There is no discount to be had there, regardless of what the school says. Instead check out local educational book providers, who will at the MINIMUM match the price and often beat it and will often have a complimentary book covering service. And 100% of your stationary can best be purchased in the back to school sales after doing a price comparison of all the stores.

LET LOVED ONES SHARE THE EXCITEMENT IF THEY ARE WILLING

Maddy's grandparents are really proud of their grandkids and like to share the milestones. They bought her her schoolbag for Kinder, and again for High School. 

KEEP UNIFORMS AND TEXTBOOKS IN GOOD CONDITION
Maddy is getting her first locker.....She's not the most
organised kid on the block

Just as I'm willing to buy second hand, I also sell off the goods afterwards. My daughter understands that she is expected to not doodle in her textbooks and care for her uniforms. Don't procrastinate in selling items either. Textbook editions change, and uniform pools only get bigger. Get them listed as soon as your child no longer needs them so that the money from their sale can fund the new years requirements.

Are you sending a cherub to start school this year? Or maybe you just can't believe your baby is ready to start high school? It's scary isn't it? xx


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