Wondering how best to budget for back to school this year? The National Consumer Agency (NCA) share their tips for back to school budgeting.
With a new school year just around the corner, many families are getting their children ready to go back to school. If you are worried about back-to-school costs, the NCA’s Back-to-school budget planner can help you plan your spending and work out how much you can afford to spend on each item.
If you’re not sure about the costs of school items, you could check with the school, look online and talk to other parents. Once you know the total cost, you’ll see whether you need to prioritise some items and cut back on others. The budget planner also helps you to work out how much you will need to spend throughout the school year so you can plan ahead.
If you find you are going over your budget, there are loads of ways for you to save on back-to-school costs.
Shop smart for uniforms
Uniforms can be one of the biggest back-to-school expenses. Talk to your school to see if it operates or knows of a second-hand uniform sale. If your school requires you to buy an item of clothing with a school crest, ask them if you can buy the crest and uniform separately to save you money.
Bag a bargain
Keep an eye out for special promotions in shops on school uniforms and try to shop around for generic items of clothing like grey skirts or trousers – just because the school crest appears on the jumper doesn’t mean you have to buy the matching plain skirt or trouser from their exclusive supplier. The larger chain stores can be good for these, but remember that stocks don’t last when demand is high so it’s a good idea to buy as soon as you can.
Compare prices before you shop
If you have to buy brand new books, make sure you shop around. You can compare prices in bookshops with those from online retailers, as well as specialised schoolbook websites.
Consider buying second-hand schoolbooks
Before you do, you’ll need to check whether your school specifies a particular edition of a given textbook. Some schoolbook websites also sell second hand books or allow you to sell your books through their websites. Remember, you may be able to sell your child’s old books if they are in good condition.
Many schools operate book-lending schemes and don’t forget that some books, such as popular classics, are also available from libraries, though you won’t be able to borrow books for the full school year.
Save money where you can
Keep an eye out for bargains on school bags, lunch boxes, pencil cases and other everyday school items. Try to avoid spending more than you need to on these items as they are easily lost. Buying stationery in bulk can also be cheaper than buying items one-by-one. There are usually good offers at back-to-school time, such as bundles of copybooks, pens and notebooks, so, if you can afford it, it might be worth buying what you will need for the year.
Lighten lunch costs
Packed lunches prepared at home are not only cheaper than shop-bought lunches – they are often more nutritious. A little time spent planning your family’s weekday lunch menu before you do the shopping can reduce food waste and save you money.
Related : Top Tips for Healthy Lunchboxes
Get one step ahead of next year
Take this year’s receipts and make a start for next year’s budget. This way you can plan ahead as best you can to have cash available for your back-to-school expenses for the next school year.
More information from the NCA
The NCA’s consumer help website, has lots of information on personal finance, managing your money and money-saving tips to help you stay on top of your budget throughout the school year. You can also find out everything you need to know about your consumer rights.
Do you have a money saving tip for back to school? Share it with us in the comments below!