Kitting the kids out for a new school year can be very expensive – especially if you have several school age children! Here are 10 ways to cut the ‘back-to-school’ costs…
1. Re-use what you can
I’ve got friends who every year, without fail, purchase new lunchboxes, school bags, pencil cases… you name it! But, not everything needs replacing that frequently. Most things can be chucked in the washing machine (I’ve always washed my kids bags and lunchboxes termly on a gentle wash) and they’ll look brand new again afterwards. See what can be re-used or cleaned up before you shop.
Similarly, if last year’s school uniform or shoes still fit, make the most of them before you buy new. By waiting a couple of months, you might even find that you save money when things are sold off cheaply after the initial back to school surge.
2. Hunt out second-hand
Just as your own kids often skip a size, or seemingly grow overnight, so do everyone else’s – and that means that often you can pick up ‘as good as new’ items for next to nothing. Before you buy new, see if your child’s school has any second-hand uniform available to purchase; it might even be something you want to speak to the school about setting up if they don’t already do so. Speak to your mummy friends too; there will always be someone getting rid of something you need.
3. Visit a budget supermarket
Supermarket school uniform is generally reasonably priced and well made, so there’s no need to spend a fortune on expensive brands. The budget supermarkets really do offer some bargains when it comes to school uniform – Lidl and Aldi seem to practically give it away! So, even if you don’t usually shop there, it may well be worth a trip to school up on school supplies.
4. Buy in the sales
As soon as summer is over, summer uniform costs drop rapidly – Sainsbury’s even sell off school dresses for as little as £1 per dress every year! There are always bargains to be had so don’t wait to buy it all in one go. Shop the out of season sales, purchase a larger size, and enjoy not having to spend a fortune the following year.
This also applies to things like pencil cases and lunchboxes – as soon as the school shop rush ends, it’ll all be reduced. So, buy year round and store your bargains until they’re needed.
5. Ignore marketing tactics
School shoes from supermarkets and budget retailers have improved vastly over the years, so don’t assume that the most expensive pair of shoes will be the best quality. Look for reviews online, check for money back guarantees to see how confident the retailer is in their products, and shop around. Don’t forget outlet stores too – if you’re a fan of pricier brands, like Clarks, try their sale or visit an outlet store for big savings.
6. Iron on logos
The items from the school shop can be crazily priced, so try to avoid purchasing too much from there. Aside from buying the official school jumpers, I use iron on logos for plain white polo tops to cut down on costs. If this is not something your school offers then definitely speak to the headteacher – after lots of complaints about the cost of the ‘official’ items, badges were offered for £1 each at my children’s school which made everything so much more affordable.
7. Invest in a fabric pen
Name labels can cost a small fortune, and eventually end up coming off in the wash. For labelling clothes, Sharpie Rub-a-Dub laundry permanent markers have great reviews and, at around £7.50 for a pack of two on Amazon, you’ll get a few years of labels out of them – super simple and no sewing needed!
8. Buy a little bigger
For pricier items, such as the school jumpers from the school shop, always buy a little bigger than your child needs. It might be a little baggy, but they’ll soon grow and you’ll be thanking yourself that you didn’t buy anything too snug!
9. Save every month
It’s no surprise that, even with budget items, kitting your child out for school will soon add up – especially if you have a couple of kids! To ease the burden, put a little away each month so that when August rolls around next year your load will feel a little lighter. Similarly, it may be worth putting a little extra away for school trips too, to make things less stressful when additional expenses come up throughout the year.
10. Ask for help if you need it
If you find it hard to find the funds to kit your child out for the new school year, speak to your child’s school – they may be able to help. Schools get extra funding for lower income families, referred to as Pupil Premium, and it can be used to offer subsidies or grants for school uniform if needed. So, don’t struggle, just ask. 🙂