Didn’t those six week holidays fly by? It seems like only yesterday the kids came bounding out of school full of beans for their upcoming break, but alas September is here, and with it a new school year. There are lots of things your young ones may need (or really, really want… scented gel pens anyone?) but that doesn’t mean your bank balance needs to feel the strain. Here are our top tips for being a back-to-school-bargainer!
Make a list. School uniform? Pens, notebooks, other stationery? PE kit? Whatever needs updating, it’s always a good idea to write it all down in advance. That way you’re less likely to forget something or be caught out by impulsive cries of ‘Can we get one of these? Please!’ Don’t know where to start? See netmums.com/children/ready-for-school-checklists for a handy checklist.
Raid the charity shops. There are plenty of children who will recently have grown out of their uniforms, shoes and kits, ready for yours to step in to. There’s really not much point spending lots of money on something your child will probably grow out of in a few months or a year, so if it’s plain shirts, blouses and pairs of trousers you’re after, a good deal is probably waiting in your local charity shop.
Ask other mums and dads. If the charity shops let you down, why not ask other parents with older children if they have any clothing in decent condition that no longer fits? If they’re looking to get rid of clutter you may well get a freebie! Local selling groups on Facebook are also great for bagging bargains, so get joining!
Be stingy about stationery. It’s self-explanatory really – why spend pounds on a notebook when you could spend pennies? Often high street stationery stores can be costly and you end up paying for brands or fancy designs, so don’t be drawn in. The Works offers an 80% discount on their online stationery store – pay a visit to theworks.co.uk to see if they have what you need.
Consider packed lunches. If school dinners are proving pricey, the beginning of the school year is a good time to reconsider and start sending your child with a packed lunch instead. However, you may be eligible for free school meals if you’re on certain benefits – you can find out and apply at gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals.
Can they bear to car share? Have a chat with other parents who live nearby and see if you can agree on a plan for sharing the school run. Even driving to school every other day will cost less than doing it every day, so it will save you both money, plus you’ll get a bit of extra time to yourselves some mornings. Of course car sharing is a friend to the environment and should ease some of the unsafe traffic congestion outside of the school too.
Trying to live on a budget can be difficult and confusing, but help is out there – CAP Life Skills is the way to go if you’re looking to get more financially savvy and learn some important money saving techniques. Head to capuk.org to find out more. For help and advice if debt is causing problems in your life, call 0800 328 0006.
By Adriaan van Wyk