In the blink of an eye, the school summer holidays are almost at an end, and with September rapidly looming, back to school preparations are fully underway. For parents, getting the kids ready for the start of term can prove a stressful and costly experience at the best of times.
However, in the midst of a cost of living crisis, the financial implications will only be adding to the pressure many families across the country are feeling. That being said, there are ways to cut the costs of gearing up for a new school year.
Nick Drewe, founder of discounts platform, WeThrift has compiled a list of useful tips for how families can help to reduce their costs and save money on the back to school essentials this September.
- Conduct a uniform inventory check
A large financial burden concerning many families is the cost of new school uniforms, particularly for families with multiple children, meaning multiple uniforms across different schools with different requirements.
It can be tempting to feel that you have to buy everything brand new when it comes to a new school year; however, it’s always worthwhile doing an inventory and quality checks on your children’s existing uniform before hitting the shops. If some items are still good quality, and are still fitting well for the time-being, save on money and continue wearing them until they need replacing.
- Purchase pre-loved uniforms
Another great way to cut down on the amount you’re spending on school uniforms is to shop for preloved items, particularly on the more expensive items such as blazers and clothing with your child’s school logo on.
Look out for local second-hand uniform retailers who offer uniforms with the school’s branding, and be sure to add yourself to local school Facebook pages or parents’ Whatsapp groups, as many others may be looking to hand down their child’s outgrown items rather than seeing good quality pieces going to waste. Not only does this save on money, but is also better from a sustainability perspective too.
- Search for discount codes when shopping for school shoes
One of the most expensive elements of the school uniform shop is new school shoes. Not only do parents have to contend with wear and tear, but also the fact that children’s feet are constantly growing, meaning that the costs can start to really pile up throughout the school year.
That being said, there are a wide range of discount codes available online for many of the high street shoe retailers. Yes, go into the shop in person to try on the fit of the shoes, but then it’s recommended searching online for discount codes and purchasing through the retailers website.
Also, be on the lookout for retailers that offer a warranty guarantee, with some offering refunds or replacements if the product is of poor quality or if your child grows out of them within a certain time period. Remember to always check terms and conditions.
- Use loyalty points or cash back sites
If you are planning on shopping for uniforms and back to school essentials at your local supermarket, why not use your loyalty points if you have them, saving you money on the more expensive items.
Reward and cash back sites are also a great way to help to cut the cost of back to school shopping.
- Government Uniform Grants
School uniform grants are available from local councils across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, offering money towards the costs of school uniforms and PE kits. It is always worth checking your local council to see if such grants are available and if you meet the terms and conditions to qualify to receive it.
If such a grant is unavailable from your local council, check with your child’s school to see if any other incentives or grants are available to help you save on the cost of uniforms.
- Carry out an inventory check on stationery
When it comes to new stationery shopping for the new term, it can be tempting to splurge on an excessive amount of different coloured pens, notepads, calculators and more. We always recommend doing as you would with school uniforms and doing an inventory check to look at the quality of existing stationery, looking at what’s missing and what may need replacing.
It is also worthwhile to check in with your children’s school and find out if any equipment will be provided in school and what exactly you need to purchase yourself. This saves you doubling up on unnecessary items.
- Shop for second hand books
For the kids who are a little older and are at secondary school, they may be required to purchase certain books for their studies. The cost of purchasing books across multiple subjects can add up.
Therefore, looking out for retailers that provide the option to purchase preloved books at a reduced cost is always worthwhile. Again, not only is this saving on cash, but offers a more sustainable way of shopping for school supplies.
- Plan for packed lunches
When it comes to reducing the costs of your child’s lunches, planning is key! Pre-plan what lunches you’re going to make for them throughout the week before you do your food shops so that you can work out a weekly budget and know exactly what you need to buy. Bulk buying ingredients and cupboard staples you use regularly is also a handy way to reduce the cost of your grocery bills.
Keep an eye out for items that are on sale and stock up when they are reduced.
However, it’s important to pay extra attention to expiration dates on food so that you can plan and minimise food wastage.