Keeping the kids entertained for six whole weeks doesn’t come cheap, so the summer holiday can take its toll on your wallet.
And when September rolls around it’s time to spend again. This time it will be on school supplies. It’s an unavoidable expense, but there are ways to make it a little easier to stomach.
We’ve put together this list of excellent back-to-school tips to help you save more this September.
1. Take Stock
Before you start splashing the cash, check your cupboards and drawers for items you didn’t even know you had. This little back to school tip is also known as ‘shopping the home’. You’re likely to find pens stuffed in the back of drawers and unused notebooks under piles of paperwork which saves unnecessary spending.
As for school uniforms, have your kids try on last year’s to see if anything still fits. You might get a couple of extra months out of a sweatshirt or a pair of shoes.
Collect everything together (even the things that don’t fit, because you’ll need them later) and then…
2. Make a List and Stick to It
Make a back-to-school checklist. Include everything your kids will need for the new school year. It’s long, right? Now go ahead and cross off the items you already found in the house. We bet it’s looking a little better already.
Now you have your back-to-school shopping list, set a very strict budget. The trick is to buy the essentials only and leave those tempting little luxuries on the shelf. If there’s money left over when you’re done, you can treat yourself and the kids to a special back-to-school dinner.
3. Shop Throughout the Year
August is an expensive month, but you can take some of the weight off your bank account by shopping for school supplies year-round. Incredible bargains can be had during the various sale seasons. So keep an eye out for books, stationary and clothes (in a bigger size) that can be stashed away until needed.
4. Host a Back-to-School Swap with Other Parents
This back-to-school tip is for all the parents in your neighborhood! Arrange a get together with them to swap clothes, books and toys. You could even make a party of it with an end-of-summer BBQ. This is a great opportunity for the kids to reconnect with friends after a month apart and for you to hear all the important back-to-school gossip.
For maximum success invite parents with children of different ages, that way everyone will benefit from some hand-me-downs. We also recommend stipulating some basic rules beforehand to ensure its fair. For starters, everyone has to bring something to swap and all clothes must be in good, clean condition.
5. Bulk Buy Bargains
Supermarkets and department stores often have uniform sales in late September/early October so if you can wait that long to buy, you’ll make some serious savings.
Kids grow so fast it’s likely you’ll need to buy new trousers or shirts before the spring term. That’s where bulk buying comes in handy! When you spot a bargain, pick it up in a couple of sizes to cover the whole year.
One thing that is worth bearing in mind is that cheap clothing can sometimes be a false economy. Kids will play, jump, run, paint and eat in their uniform so it needs to be durable else you’ll find yourself replacing it all too often. Don’t let a low price blind you to poor quality.
6. Surf the Web
Shop online for text books, stationary supplies, lunch boxes, bags and sports kit – basically anything you don’t need the kids to try on. It’s easier to compare prices online, there’s much greater choice and bonus: you’ll save on petrol money.
Amazon and eBay are two favorites, especially for discounted text books and branded school uniform. In addition to low prices, Amazon offers free shipping on a lot of its products so take advantage of that where you can.
7. Personalize Supplies
One Direction, Hello Kitty, Star Wars – kids sure love their brands! According to stats, character-branded products cost up to 30% more than generic products, so that Justin Bieber pencil case could make a significant dent in your budget.
An easy way to save money is buying cheap, plain stationary and letting the kids get creative. They can decorate their own notebooks and lunch boxes with stickers and other craft supplies you already have at home. This is a great rainy afternoon project that will have them excited about going back to school!
8. A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Pennies
Now a back-to-school tip for parents who fancy learning a new skill (or using one they already have).
As we know all too well, school uniforms go through a lot. Being able to patch up holes, sew on buttons and make alterations saves you from replacing clothes that are otherwise completely fine. All you need is a needle, thread and basic sewing skills to make your money – and their uniforms – stretch that little bit further.
9. Shop the School’s Second-hand Uniform Sale
Many schools host second-hand uniform sales at the beginning of term. This is a great opportunity to pick up some nearly new garments on the cheap. You can even find cut-price logoed items like blazers and jumpers which are usually very expensive.
If your school doesn’t run second hand sales, suggest that they do! And if all else fails, organize one yourself, other parents will thank you!
10. Prepare a Packed Lunch
Send your kids packing with a homemade lunch on their first day of school… and every day after that! School dinners cost in the region of £2 per child, per day. But you can feed a whole brood of hungry kids for less than that if you prepare a packed lunch.
We hope that you found these back to school saving tips helpful.
How do you plan on saving for September? Let us know by sharing your best tip below.