Summer ends, school starts and parents around the country collectively breathe a sigh of relief. This sigh is, however, often made through gritted teeth as parents shoulder the costs of buying everything a child needs for school.
With COVID19 having decimated the family finances in a lot of households, many parents will be looking for ways to keep the cost down. Here are three tips to help.
Know your rights on uniforms
School uniform is a fact of life in the UK. This shows little sign of changing any time soon. What has changed, however, is the government guidance on it. The Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill essentially says that schools must keep branded items to a minimum.
In practical terms, this means that parents can now source most of a child’s school uniform from regular clothing suppliers. This could work out vastly more affordable than buying branded items from a school’s preferred supplier(s).
There is now also nothing to stop you from looking for used clothes either in the real world or online. Remember, children, especially young ones, grow so quickly, they can need new clothes before the old ones are anywhere near worn out.
Once you have your child’s uniform, label every time, or at least everyone you care about. That will minimize the chances of uniform pieces being lost when your child changes their clothes. Remember, even if they don’t have PE, they might still take clothes off if they are too hot or if they’re doing something messy like art.
Commit to shoe care
Children do need good quality shoes to protect their feet as they grow. Good shoes do tend to be expensive and it can be frustrating how quickly children grow out of them. It can be even more frustrating when shoes end up getting lost or destroyed while there’s still use in them.
There’s nothing you can do about your child’s growth. There is, however, a lot you can do to make sure that they get maximum use out of their shoes while they still fit. First of all, glue a small label on the inside of each of your child’s shoes with their name on it. You can remove this if you pass on the shoes. In the meantime, it will help to stop them from getting lost.
With children’s shoes, scuffs are inevitable. Treat them as soon as you see them. This is part practicality and part psychology. Keeping shoes looking nice can encourage (some) children to take better care of them. Similarly, if they need to be repaired, deal with it promptly. Staying on top of this can take up time but it can also save a lot of money.
Keep accessories to a minimum
Buy plain lunch-boxes and water bottles. Add removable decals to make them more fun for children. If your child gets bored with them, swap out the decals for new ones. This works out a lot more economical than continually buying new lunch-boxes and water bottles.
Similarly, resist the temptation to stock up on anything at the start of the school year. It may save time (and feel satisfying) to do it all at once. You will, however, pay a hefty premium for the privilege. What’s more, you run the risk of the items being lost or damaged before you get any real use out of them.
Instead, just buy enough to get your child through the first couple of weeks of school. Then wait for the post-school-return sales and stock up if you want to. Alternatively, just buy little and often throughout the year.
Make sure you claim all benefits and discounts
It never hurts to check if you are eligible for any sort of support. This could mean anything from benefits to discounts on extracurricular activities and school equipment.