Back to school after the summer holidays, is generally the most expensive time of the school year. Especially when it’s a new school for an older age group, if for example moving up to a secondary school. In addition to everyday uniform are multiple sports kits and accessories required, from shin pads to gum shields!
My daughter’s secondary school is very strict on a uniform and there’s a rule we have to buy the uniform from one specific shop. Therefore no option of shopping around and much less chance of us getting a discount. Thankfully this isn’t the case for everyone.
Add to this a large range of stationery required, from multiple pens in various colours to scientific calculators. The main point is, going back to school after summer, soon becomes extremely costly. I seriously do wonder how some families manage
So how can we save on some of these back to school costs and going forward, general savings during the school year?
Well, below I’ve put together as many back to school saving tips and ideas as possible to help you get the most for your money.
School Uniform & Sports Kits Money Saving Tips
1. Don’t buy the sports kits that aren’t going to be used for months.
2. Stock up on sizes you may need throughout the year or next year in the sales.
3. Instead of buying name labels just use a Sharpie, works well & saves time and money.
4. When buying trousers, make sure there’s plenty of hem so you can take them up, then down as they grow.
5. Cut down school trousers to make shorts for summer!
6. Buy school uniform in the sales with adjustable waists.
7. Invest in a cheap sewing machine to alter or repair a uniform instead of throwing out.
8. At the end of September or October, shops discount their uniform, buy some for the following year in a larger size.
9. Unless its compulsory, don’t buy logo uniform, just get plain.
10. Buy a coat with a lining you can easily remove and pop back in, so it will last winter and spring.
11. If you’re really struggling financially try http://family-action.org.uk who give grants of up to £200 for uniforms.
Save on School Shoes
School shoes are one of the biggest expenses, so important to get the best deal, look after them and not lose them.
12. Write their names with a marker pen in their shoes either on sole or inside or both so less likely to be lost.
13. Try shoes on in the shop to ensure a good fit then by online at a cheaper price.
14. Some people buy slightly larger than the current best fit so there’s room to grow into.
15. Don’t buy really cheap shoes. They don’t last and you’ll end up buying more pairs through the year.
16. Use discount cards for shoes. When I looked at Zeek they had 6% discount for Clarks, this might be higher at other times. Plus you can typically get preload Zeek credit bonuses. Read my full Zeek review here. Topcashback earnings can also be boosted if transferred into Zeek credit (at time of writing).
Washing School Uniform Tips
17. Find a decent stain remover and treat stains as soon as spotted!
18. Consider using some colored dye to breathe new life into a faded uniform.
19. Use vouchers and coupons to stock up on good washing powders/conditioners
to be ready for uniform washes and maintaining softness.
20 With the amount of washing you’ll be doing, an eco egg may be a good investment – lasts 800+ washes!
Recycling & Reusing Tips and Savings
21. Organise clothes swap party – kids grow so fast that you can get barely worn school clothes.
22. Charity shops are a great source of cheap school uniform, especially blazers which hardly sometimes get worn.
23. If last years uniform still fits, keep using it.
24. Preloved boards/sites can be as good as new, cost less for expensive school items.
25. Join Local Facebook selling groups, uniforms are sometimes being sold cheaply by other parents.
26. Host a back to school swap with other parents can be fun!
27. Save outgrown uniform in good condition for younger siblings or local friends.
28. Some schools sell off lost and found items at the end of the year for like £1 each item or less.
29. Learn to do basic sewing, it’s much better to darn or fix than replace. Needles and cotton cost very little.
30. Car boots can be great for character items, sometimes almost unused, good clean.
31. Donate old uniform to the charity shop nearest the school to help those who can’t afford new.
Back to School Savings on Stationery Supplies Such As Pencil Cases
32. Encourage your child to save their pocket money to buy some of their own stationery. Great way to teach responsibility & SAVE (My daughter loves Stationery, we could do a whole supermarket shop while she stays looking around the stationery aisle.)
33. Only buy equipment you need, get a stationery list from the school.
34. Get free pens and pencils etc from freebies stalls, banks etc.
35. Buy plain folders and pencil cases etc and get the kids to decorate them.
36. Reuse a cutlery tray as a homework station for pens, erasers, etc.
37. Consider stationery items as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Suggest to the family to buy some too (gift from holiday trip etc).
38. Look through draws and cupboards around the house. You might find you already have no end of pens, pencils, and other stationery items.
39. Ask if grandparents if they don’t mind helping out with school supplies as treats.
School Lunch and Dinner Saving Tips
40. Make use of the free school meal for children in key stage 1. Every child in year 1 and 2 get it regardless of income.
41. Check online see if eligible for school grant my as single parent now was entitled to free school meals too.
42. Buy plain lunch boxes/ water bottles and be creative with stickers and markers! Cheap, unique and kids love them. (same for cheaper plain bags etc).
43. For packed lunch save on ice packs, freeze their juice carton or water it acts as an ice pack and is a cold drink.
44. Instead of buying tiny boxes of raisins, buy a big box and give them a few each day in a small container.
45. Buy fruit, and small food bags, then make own fruit bags for pack lunches! Much fresher and cheaper.
46. Shop and plan for the week’s lunches. No last minute expensive ‘quick fixes’.
47. Buy fruit that is currently in season to put in your kid’s lunch box, it’s often cheaper and tastier.
48. Instead of buying pricey cartons of juice put their favorite cordial in a water bottle. Saves loads.
49. Make your own breakfast type bars with breakfast cereal, recipes online.
50. Use cashback apps, like Shopmium and Checkoutsmart as they have good deals on kids snacks and sometimes freebies.
General Saving and Budgeting Tips For School Terms
51. Anyone with school children knows there is a constant flow of requests for money. Charity days, mufti (non-uniform days), school trips, school entertainment, dress up days you need to buy the outfit for, school fete. Some schools even charge parents to watch their own children perform in the Xmas play.
52. Get the kids to do chores for big school trips to cover it gets them excited for it to knowing helped.
53. Get the children involved in free after-school clubs rather than the more costly ones.
54. Musical instruments are costly. Try renting until it’s clear they’re keen to continue.
School Budgeting Tips
55. Spread the cost – uniform one week, haircut next week, stationery week after, shoes the week after that.
56. Keep a tin or jar for school trip funds set aside, so we are always prepared! Our School Trip tin also great for relatives to add to, instead of buying sweet treats, etc
57. Start putting some change in a jar for fundraising days and casual clothes days etc.
When and Where To Buy – Tips for Buying Cheap Online
58. Check social media. A lot of companies offer discounts via Facebook and Twitter now.
59. A the end of September or October, shops discount their uniform buy some for the following year in a larger size. (Yes its a risk, but sometimes it’s 70% off).
60. Compare prices! Shops often have ‘beat it’ prices!
61. Often the BOGOF offers you can mix sizes so forward thinking buy ahead a year and save a fortune.
62. Some websites offer free kids books in return for honest reviews. Ideal for book reports and you can donate them after they’ve been read.
63. Supermarkets normally have good value multi-buy offers, cheaper than the high street. Also, check your pound shops.
64. Remember to use your supermarket loyalty cards.
65. For any more expensive items, use Price comparison websites, plus always try to get cashback.
66. Second-hand study books can be brought online, eBay etc.
67. Search social media/newspaper/mags for “BackToSchool” coupons and offers, there are loads in August.
68. Sign up to big brand newsletters to take advantage of their fab back to school deals.
69. If you’re spending online consider saving by buying discounted gift vouchers from Zeek. (Combined with upload credit bonuses can make big %savings).
70. Sign up to Kidstart to earn cashback on online purchases from Amazon and John Lewis, plus many others.
Save on Travel To School
71. Walk Children to school rather than go in the car. Especially if you live within a mile. If they can’t walk that far, can they scooter or bike? The walk home is especially a great time to talk about how their day went and find out what they learned.
72. Find out if you can get free school travel, you could save lots.
73. Check if you are entitled to free bus travel.
Child Health Savings
74. Use the NHS Minor Ailments Service at your pharmacy for free head lice (nits) treatments. (Available in some parts of the country).
What are the Current Latest Back To School Deals
75. Be sure to check for the latest Money Saving Expert back to School Deals page. They typically cover the best and latest deals on offer from Asda, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Next and Marks and Spencers.
76. They also have details and links to all kinds of random Back to School Bargains for stationery to musical instruments.
Hopefully at least one of these tips has the potential to save you some money.
Did I miss any? If you have any school money-saving tips of your own please feel free to share in the comments or on my social media.
Thanks in advance.