Back to school without breaking the bank
It’s that time of year again – back to school. Whether you can’t bear the idea of being without your kids 24 hours a day or you’re secretly quite glad to get some time back for yourself, your kids will need suiting, booting and fully equipping ready to start the new school term.
All that uniform, stationery, lunch supplies and P.E. kit can be expensive, so here are a few money-saving tips for mums and dads who are picking up their back to school bits last minute:
You don’t have to buy everything new
First things first – assess what your kids already have, looking at what can be used again and what is fit either for the charity shop or the recycling centre. If there’s anything half-decent, it can either be used again or sold to raise extra funds for the rest of your shopping. As much as your kids may whine, not everything has to be bought brand new.
Whatever you buy, make sure you always go for good quality, as an item that falls apart after a few months is never good value. Prioritise quality especially when it comes to uniform. Schools such as Rossall School will recommend a trusted partner to buy uniform from, one that guarantees quality – it’s always worth taking these recommendations to save you having to buy the same item twice.
There are lots of places to find nearly new back to school gear at a fraction of the cost of buying it new. Charity shops are a great place to start, as are local buy, sell and swap groups and online sites such as Preloved and Freecycle.
Host a back to school swap party
If you’re throwing last year’s school stuff away, the chances are that other parents are too – and some of this stuff may be really useful to someone else. Round up a few local parents and host a swap party just before school starts – you could pick up lots of items you would normally have to splash out on and it’s a good chance to socialise and trade war stories about the summer holidays with other parents.
Make a list and stick to it
Back to school shopping requires discipline and willpower. You must make a list, stick strictly to it, and ignore all of those temptations (and little begging voices in your ear) in the shops.
Buy plain items and personalise them yourself
The plain, no-frills pencil cases and lunch boxes are always cheaper than branded or decorative items. Snap these up and decorate them yourself with fun stickers and decals. It’s a great way to save money and a fun back to school activity to do with the kids too.
Plan lunches in advance
It might sound like overkill, but sitting down and planning your children’s lunches for at least the first week of term can help you come up with a shopping list and budget right down to the last penny. If you plan ahead, shop smart and make nearly all of it yourself, you can save a small fortune compared to last minute panic shopping.
Stock up throughout the year
If you’ve already done your back to school shopping and spent far more than you would have liked, now is the time to make sure it doesn’t happen again next year. Starting from a month or so after the kids start the new term, when all of the back to school stock will hopefully be reduced, start a little stash of supplies ready for next year. Uniform and clothes are tricky to buy as children grow so fast, but you can stock up on stationery, lunchboxes and bags whenever you spot a bargain or a great deal. It’ll also save you from panicking at the end of August next year!