Back-to-school prep always seems to make a serious dent on the bank balance, but this year, amid the cost-of-living crisis, so many families are feeling the pinch more than ever.
Ace your back to school shopping with our uniform top tips, essential advice and star buys for the school year ahead. Keep scrolling for more…
Save money by auditing your children's wardrobes
Our top tip is to firstly audit what you do have at home. Before you hit the shops have a good look in the wardrobe and see what you have already. Many school uniform essentials can be reworn and you might even find some bits still in pristine condition. You don’t have to buy new just because it is September. Only then, start writing a list of what you actually need to get.
Save money by buying second-hand
Many of us are trying to be more sustainable and this could include school uniform. Check out Facebook Marketplace, local selling pages and even your local charity shops for lightly worn school uniform. Many schools also have second-hand uniform sales ran by the PTA so contact the school and ask. If not, you could even help set one up for your school and help other parents out too.
Save money by doing a supermarket sweep
If you are not tied to wearing uniform with school logos, then the supermarkets often have affordable ranges. You can pick up skirts or trousers whilst doing the food shop, so it also saves you time. Look for crease-free fabrics to save you ironing on a Sunday afternoon!
Save money by labelling your children's property
Primary schools are often warm environments with the kids taking on and off cardigans, PE kits are kicked all around the cloakroom and it has been known for children to come home with the wrong shoes on. Label their property, it makes the teacher's life easier after PE and your child is likely to be reunited with any missing clothes much quicker.
If you're looking to invest long term, and you have other crafing projects a Cricut machine and an Easy Press might be perfect for you. Or, Stamptastic makes the task super speedy with a reusable stamp and ink pad. The ink will withstand up to 50 washes, and the stamp will last forever!
Sew on name labels, from £3.99, Etsy
Save money by shopping for personalised items
When buying pencil cases or stationery look for personalised items. They may be a little more expensive initially but they can save money in the long run as it is a lot easier to keep your items if they have a name on them. Pencils are often mixed up and proving they are yours is next to impossible, but if they are engraved with your child’s name or initials, they can’t be mistaken for other classmates.
Personalised pencil case, £14, Not On The High Street
Save money by shopping for refurbished tech and sim only deals
If older students need tech equipment including laptops for homework and research projects, look at refurbished models rather than buying new. Many tweens and teens bust a gut to get a mobile phone as they transition to secondary school, but they don’t need the latest expensive models as they are prone to be lost or smashed anyway. Let them have a refurbished phone or even better your old model when you get an upgrade. This way they only need a SIM deal, we love Sky Mobile for this as you can even share data between family members using Piggybank.
Save money by being a cashback Queen
When buying online get rewarded with TopCashBack. For each tracked purchase a percentage is passed back into your account that you can withdraw at a later date. Therefore, if you are buying uniform or equipment online make sure you utilise this money-saving tip, savvy shoppers often save their cash back up and withdraw once a year for a more noticeable amount.
Save money on transport
Walking or cycling to school can save money and the environment plus it keeps the kids fit. Rather than jumping in the car for convenience plan your journey and allow time to walk. Over the course of a month this can save a fair bit of money. If you can’t walk to school, then look at sharing the journey with another local parent. This can take the financial pressure off plus you win some time back if you are sharing the responsibility.
Kids mountain bike, £139.99, Argos
Save money with packed Lunches
Creating a healthy packed lunch is much cheaper than paying for school dinners plus you have more control over what the kids are eating. Making egg muffins are tasty options and there are plenty of snacks that teenagers will happily eat too. These healthy snacks are ideal for lunch boxes.
Save money on drinks for school
Most children don’t drink enough during the day and taking a leak-proof water bottle to school is a good habit, and of course, children can fill their water bottles up for free at school. This saves money on buying drinks and if your child doesn’t like water one of those small concentrated squashes can easily be carried in a school bag.
Personalised Sports Bottle, £8.95, Not on the High Street
Save money on school shoes
School kids’ shoes need to be pretty indestructible. They work hard as are obviously worn five days a week for eight hours a time and children’s feet need to be well supported during their growing years. Treads offer a 12-month money-back guarantee that their shoes will stand the test of time.
Save money by planning ahead for additional costs
Finally, the last money-saving tip for Back to School encourages parents to plan ahead. School trips and swimming lessons are part and parcel of the school year and can be planned for. If you commit to putting £25 a month away for school costs you will have money to hand when those emails land in your inbox. At the end of the school year if you have any money left over in your kitty then that money can go towards next September's Back to School!
Emma Bradley is a money-saving and parenting blogger at emmaand3.com, she is a qualified teacher who has three children and writes as a parenting expert.
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