Back to school – buying school supplies on a budget

It’s that time of year again – you’ve run out of ideas of how to keep the kids entertained and are looking forward for them to get back to school, but somehow you seem to be spending far more on your child’s school equipment than you thought possible. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide on going back to school within budget.Street UK - Back to School on a Budget

Firstly – Check what you still have in your house from last year. It’s tempting (and often easier) to just buy everything again from scratch, but it’s also expensive and unnecessary. Many items, such as rulers and pencil cases, can be used for years. This also applies to uniform – your child won’t need a new jumper if the old one is still perfectly intact and comfortable. If possible, you might want to let your child customise old items to help them feel new.

Once you know what you don’t have to buy, double check the supplies list. Often, things will be suggested, but not necessary, meaning that you can skip the expensive highlighters the shops have been advertising.  When it comes to uniform, double check how many items actually have to have the school emblem; some schools will offer an embroidered jumper, but allow pupils to wear plain ones of the correct colour.

Next, ask around. Before you go shopping, see whether your child’s school has a second hand system, and if it doesn’t, speak to other parents about setting one up – it will be beneficial to both you and them. You can also talk to the school if you’re having issues with supplies – teachers want all children in their class to be correctly equipped, and many will know of websites and stores which can help you.

When you do go shopping, there are many things you can do to ease the cost. For starters, create a list and budget before you go and stick to it. If your child doesn’t mind what you buy, go alone and decrease the risk of impulse buys. If they do, try giving them a budget per item. You and other parents can also try buying in bulk and dividing amongst yourself – this provides better value for money, and decreases the chances of jealousy among children.  Keep an eye on which stores are offering which “Back to School”  deals , and remember that some items may get discounted after school actually starts.

You could also look at where you can get freebies – whether any folders or stationary is being thrown away at work, or whether any websites such as Freecycle or Gumtree are offering school supplies.

Finally, remember to name your child’s equipment. You’ll regret it badly if you don’t and your child loses four jumpers over the course of 2 terms.