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The Christmas credit card bill came in last week and you are probably still getting over the shock.

The Christmas credit card bill came in last week and you are probably still getting over the shock.  And now the kids are getting ready to going back to school.  With the expectation of a tough year ahead financially for most Australians, the 2015 school year is going to be a squeeze as families try to avoid the pinch from Budget cuts and a circling global storm. But it doesn't have to be.  With a bit of planning and smart shopping, Dr Adrian Raftery, senior lecturer in Financial Planning and Superannuation at Deakin University, provides a few ideas you can make this back-to-school alot easier.

Shop around during the sales

There are some great deals in the back-to-school sales.  But it is important that you shop around because not everything is on special at the one store.  Don't buy things that are not needed or rarely used.  Recycle stationery items, such as pens and pencils from around the house.

Buy pre-loved

Shakespeare's words have not changed over the years, so you may as well buy novels and text books second hand rather than brand new.  Your kids may even benefit from having some key points already highlighted for them and make study a bit easier! Borrow from the library and it will be even cheaper (but make sure you return the books on time!).  eBooks can be a cheaper alternative to hard copies too.  Also look at buying rarely worn clothing items, such as blazers, second hand.

Beware of "special" leasing deals

The big ticket items, such as computers, can make a real dent in the cashflow.  Retailers realise this and offer leasing/rental alternatives which may seem pretty cheap when broken down to a small weekly rental figure (such as $12/week).  But these deals may have implied interest rates as high as 50%.  Do your own calculations and don't get caught out.

Make it, don't buy it

Making the kids' lunches each day is a cheaper (and probably healthier) alternative than buying from the canteen.  Give them a treat every now and then to compensate.

Shop online

I often get the best deals online and auction websites such as eBay and Grays Online are great for finding huge bargains on the more expensive items.  Try and buy items in "off-peak" times as lower demand usually results in lower prices.  You may be able to buy everything for school without leaving home.  

Bigger is better

Buy clothes in larger sizes so that those growing bodies get greater wear out of them and last for longer.

Car pooling

No point in four mums bringing each of their kids to school each day by car when one mum can do the trick.  Saves on petrol and gives the other mums a bit of relax time.

Prepare for 2016 now

Start an education savings account now and put a regular amount from each pay packet so that next year's back-to-school is easier.