It’s that time of year again; the back to school frenzy of buying books, uniforms, shoes, stationery and gadgets that kids need when they start the new term.
Costs can quickly mount up, placing a big financial strain on parents, but the good news is there are plenty of things you can do to help keep those back to school costs to a minimum.
Stock up at pound shops and supermarkets
Most pound shops have stationery sections where you can find everything you need for school, including pens, pencil cases, rulers and notebooks.
Supermarkets also compete with each other to offer the best deals on stationery and uniforms, so it’s possible to stock up on all the essentials you need for just a few pounds. Aldi and Lidl are both offering full school uniforms (two polo shirts, a round neck sweatshirt and a skirt or pair of trousers) for less than £4, which means you can buy one to wash and one to wear for less than a tenner.
If your children go to a school where uniform has the school’s logo on it, check to see if they hold any second-hand sales where you can pick up uniforms for less.
If you have to buy any particularly expensive items of school uniform, such as a blazer, buy a size too big so that you don’t have to replace it in just a few months’ time. Take up sleeves and then bring them down again as your child grows.
Get help from your local council
If you’re on a low income and are struggling to afford school uniforms, see if you’re eligible for financial help from your local council. Many can provide financial contributions so you can kit your children out.
Cut food costs
Your child will be eligible for free school meals if they’re at primary school in reception, year one or year two. After that, your child may still qualify for free meals if you receive certain benefits, so let your local authority know as this will mean your child’s school can get extra funding.
If your child is in year three or above and isn’t eligible for free meals, you’ll either have to pay for school lunches or make them a packed lunch every day. If you choose the latter, take advantage of special offers in supermarkets and keep your eyes peeled for ‘back to school’ food deals.
Buy second-hand books
Don’t fork out for brand new text books when they’ll probably just collect dust once the academic year is over. You can search for second-hand books online by author and title, with thousands of independent booksellers listing their new and used textbooks for sale.
Alternatively, ask parents with children in the years above if you can buy books their children no longer need from them.
Don’t buy gadgets new
If your child needs access to a computer for homework assignments, don’t spend a fortune buying a new computer or laptop. Buy a second-hand or reconditioned model – you can easily pick them up online or at electronics shops.
Youngsters have an amazing ability to destroy things with value, so contact your insurance company to make sure any gadgets that your kids will be taking out with them are covered on your home insurance policy.