In just over a week, mums and dads across the country will be preparing their kids for their first day back at school. With each new school year comes the excitement amongst children, as they pick out their brand new stationery and try on their shiny new shoes, which is usually more of a chore for us parents as we’re having to pay for it all!
If you’re hoping to keep your budget in check and save some money when shopping for back to school buys, here are some useful tips to help you do just that, from the current account and prepaid MasterCard providers, icount.
First thing’s first, assess what you already have
This comes especially in handy for stationery buys, as you’ll no doubt have plenty of pens, pencils and rubbers lying around the house. Head around each room and collect any stationery, lunch boxes and school clothing you can find that are still good for use, then make a list of what you have gathered. Compare it to a list of what your children need for the new school year and you can then work out what you need to buy from the shops!
Turn budgeting into a game!
There’s no doubt that the older your children get, the more likely they are to want the latest trends and that goes for back to school buys too. It’s always useful to begin teaching your children the value of money from an early age, so why not turn back to school buys into a game, by providing them with their own budget? They’ll be able to pick and choose what items they buy with the money (under your supervision, of course) and it will keep your own budget in check too.
Use those loyalty or discount cards you’ve put aside
So many of us are guilty for signing up to a loyalty card and forgetting about the points we’ve collected over time. If you regularly scan your nectar card and clubcard for example, or have a few discount cards lying about the house, they could come in handy when looking to save money on items for a new school year.
Don’t forget about those discounts on the back of your receipts either! You could end up saving a fair amount of money if you collect and use these before they expire.
Check out wholesale shops
Buying in bulk not only saves you some money but will set you and the kids up for a good few years of back to school buys! Head to your nearest wholesale shop such as Costco and see what bulk buys you can find in time for the start of school. Work out how much of these buys the kids will need for this year and put the rest aside for when next September comes calling.
Take to social
If you’re on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, why not search for and follow some shops that are popular for back to school purchases. Keep an eye on the social media profiles of Clarks, Staples, WHSmith, TK Maxx and the supermarkets, to name a few, for any updates concerning discounts that could work in your favour.
What about university?
Preparing your children for university is even more costly than when they were starting another year at primary or secondary school! From items to kit out their room, to textbooks and maybe even a laptop, the cost of university buys can rack up!
Head to the likes of Wilkos, Matalan or even Primark, each of which sell a huge range of affordable homeware that’s perfect for a student moving into university halls. Alternatively, speak to friends and family who might have some household items going spare. You should also look at websites such as Amazon, where you can usually find used textbooks for a much cheaper price, usually in very good nick, too.
If you’re really strapped for cash and need to invest in a laptop, look at some refurbished laptops that could save you a good £100-200 than buying brand new.
Prepare for the following year
When you’ve completed the shop for this year’s back to school stock, spend some time working out how much it all cost you and make a note of the total cost. You can use this to prepare for the following year, by making sure you put some money aside in plenty of time, to avoid pushing your budget at the last minute.
To be even more savvy with your money, add an extra 15% to what you spent this year, to prepare you for any additional purchases you might need to make next year.