Save money on back to school essentials

As August draws to a close, you might start to think about getting the kids ready for the new academic year. There’ll probably be new uniforms, shoes, bags and stationery to buy and if you’re not careful, it can turn into an expensive process.


You might not be able to avoid spending money on back to school essentials, but just like fun family days out, there are some nifty ways you can cut the cost and stop it turning into a financial headache. Here are our top tips.

1. Check what you’ve already got

There’s nothing more annoying than buying something new, only to realise you had what you needed all along. Before you rush out and buy everything, check what you’ve already got at home. You might find you’ve got all kinds of useful stuff stashed away in cupboards and in the back of drawers.

Bear in mind that there may be things you don’t need to buy until later on in the year, like school jumpers for when it gets colder.

2. Buy second-hand

As long as the quality is good enough, it really doesn’t matter whether you buy new or second-hand. You can find loads of bargains on Ebay and, if you need to buy textbooks you might be able to get a great deal on them at

School uniforms are normally the biggest expense, so make sure you have a look around and see if you can get these second-hand. Do you know anyone in your family or social circle with children that are moving up a year? They might have uniforms that their children have grown out of that are in perfectly good condition. Make sure you ask around first before you buy new.

Or your school’s PTA might run a uniform recycling scheme, where parents can bring in pre-worn jumpers and blazers to be sold on at second-hand prices. This way you can buy exactly the stuff you need at a reduced price.

3. Where you buy

Jumpers and blazers will usually need a school crest on them, so that will limit your options in terms of where you get them from. But you should be able to get items that aren’t specific to a certain school, like tights, polo shirts, skirts and trousers, fairly cheaply depending on where you buy.

As with anything, you need to shop around and look for the best deals. George at Asda is running an online exclusive on polo shirts, you can get two for £2.50 or 5 for £6. Aldi and Lidl have gone head to head targeting the back to school market, and released full school uniforms (skirt or trousers, polo shirt and sweatshirt and cardigan) for only £3.75 each!

4. Get what you need for free

You might be surprised at just how much you can get on your back to school list for absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Quite simply, people are just giving the stuff away. Why not try freecycle? It’s a free worldwide sharing platform where you can post things you want to sell, as well as search for things you need. Just enter your postcode and you’ll be able to see what people in your area are giving away.

Again you should check whether your child’s school already has a sharing/swapping scheme set up. There might be other parents out there that need what you have and have what you need. If they don’t, see whether another parent has done so, or if you can set one up yourself. Facebook is a good place to start your search.

You might be able to get help from charities as well. For example, Wood Street Mission in Manchester will be running a school uniform programme this year to help hard pressed families in the region. It might be worth seeing whether any of your local charities are offering free school uniforms, or if anyone has donated an old school uniform to a charity shop near-by.

5. Help with the cost

If you can’t find what you need for free, or for a price that fits within your budget, don’t forget that some councils offer help with the cost of school clothing, including PE kits. Just follow the link to search for your council and find out more.

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