Back to school on a budget

With the summer holidays now in full swing, the new school term is probably the last thing on your mind. However, on your return, it will be time to start shopping for school supplies. These can be very expensive and put a fair bit of pressure on the post-holiday household budget. To spare you the stress, here are some back-to-school budgeting tips so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the summer season.



Hold Off

The school supply list is usually excessively long, and filled with “desired” as opposed to “required” items. Your best bet is to contact your child’s teacher directly and find out what is recommended and what is compulsory before you actually start your shopping. Also, your child may not be enrolled in every subject in the very first term, so you may be able to spread out your shopping over the course of a year. Don’t be pressured into buying the latest model of calculator/computer/pencil case either. If the old one still does the job, stick with it!


Label Everything

It is more cost-effective to invest in iron on clothing labels than having to repurchase the items of clothing themselves. Kids lose things — it’s a fact of life. However, those things are much more likely to come back to you in a few days/weeks/months if they are clearly labelled with your name and phone number. It also pays to label pencil cases, school bags, gym gear and even textbooks!


Don’t Buy Brands

Is it necessary that your child has the latest release £50 surf-brand-labelled backpack? Don’t be sucked in by brand, because particularly when it comes to clothing, it doesn’t necessarily mean quality. You will be paying for the label, and that is the extent of it. There are certain items, however, that you should pay more for. Cheaper pens, for example, are likely to have low-quality ink and won’t last as long as name-brand versions. If you do decide that a brand name is really important to you, search for second-hand shops and look at sales online rather than paying full price.


Shop Around

You don’t have to purchase everything from your school supplies cupboard. Supermarkets are a good option for staples like pencils and rulers, as are pound shops and discount shops. Department stores and stationery shops usually schedule sales for very specific times of the year, so do your research. It may also be worth looking at buying your items in bulk and paying £2 for 100 pencils instead of £0.20 for individual pencils or pens.

Online shopping is also a great option because it gives you access to an enormous marketplace, and you don’t even have to leave home! Find everything you need online and have it delivered right to your door. It doesn’t get any easier!

Also, don’t be afraid to seek out second-hand items. Ask your school if they sell second-hand uniforms, particularly for items like blazers and coats, which are pricier garments. Also, check out second-hand bookshops for any expensive, compulsory textbooks. You can also put an ad in the local paper, or ask around your network of friends to see if someone knows of a family whose child has recently finished school.


Get Creative

You can add a bit of flair to school supplies, including exercise books, school bags and pencil cases with a DIY job. Purchase clear book covering as opposed to the expensive character and pattern options, and create funky covers with magazine cut outs, newspaper clippings, drawings and photos of friends and family. Another cool idea is to purchase plain pencil cases and school bags and jazz them up with fabric paint, glitter glue, ribbons and craft accessories.

About the Author: Kim Wilson is a primary school teacher and a mum of two eight-year-old boys. She is always on the lookout for crafty ways to stretch the school-supply budget!

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