Can you afford Back-to-School expenses?

As parents prepare for their children’s return to school, many are suffering financially due to the cost-of-living crisis and will find it hard to make ends meet for essential items like new shoes, uniforms or PE kit.

The Schoolwear Association found the average cost of compulsory secondary school uniform and sportswear items is £93 per pupil when they start secondary school.

This is a significant expense – particularly if you have more than one child – and it might be worth budgeting and purchasing items earlier than usual.

Here are some helpful tips to save money on school uniforms:

  1. Buy second-hand
    Check if your school has a second-hand selling group where you may be able to pick up pre-worn items. If it doesn’t exist, then why not try and set one up on social media for other parents to join?
  2. Go Social
    There are a number of channels you can try:
    • Facebook Marketplace: search for items and pick up for free in the area.
    • Facebook groups: Local community groups can help you connect with families and search for second-hand uniforms
    • Freecycle: This app allows people to gift or lend unwanted items to people living nearby
    • Olio: this app allows people to give away items they don’t want to those in the local neighbourhood
    • Vinted: There are over 500 results for school uniform on the app
    • eBay: You can search for specific items and bid for them
  3. Buddy up
    If you spot a great multipack clothing offer, but you don’t really need all of the items, you could also buddy up with a fellow parent and split the costs.
  4. Think of the size
    Sometimes it doesn’t harm to buy uniform in the next size up, especially if it’s an expensive item such as a blazer. You can take up long school trousers and let the hem down as your child grows.
    M&S sells trousers with a ‘grow-proof hem’, which are made with extra length.
  5. Check the uniform policy
    If you have to buy branded items and you need help with the costs, speak to the school as some offer vouchers to help out.
  6. Search outlet stores
    Some of the larger shoe shops have online outlet stores like Clarks where you can pick up discounted shoes for a fraction of the cost.
    You can get cheaper footwear from Office Offcuts, which sells ‘end of line, ex-display and last pairs of shoes’, and all stock is new.
  7. Label it
    You can reduce the risk of uniforms – particularly PE Kits – from going missing by labelling everything with your child’s name. Around three quarters of primary school children lose one to two items of uniform per year.
  8. Discount codes and loyalty apps
    Coupert and Pouch are free shopping tools that offer to automatically find every voucher available in one click and apply them to your basket. You can also get offers by signing up to a loyalty programme.
  9. Get cashback for your spending
    You can earn money back on purchases if you use a cashback credit card. Remember to pay back your full balance each month to avoid cashback gains being wiped out by interest charges.

It’s best to set a budget, make a list of items you need to buy and note their full price – that way, you’ll be able to see whether you’re really getting a bargain come sales time.

There are grants available to families in Wales to help cover the costs associated with school uniforms.

Children whose families are on lower incomes and qualify for certain benefits can apply for the grant of £225 per learner, and £300 for those learners entering year 7, recognising the increased costs associated with starting secondary school.

The additional £100 is for this year only. All compulsory school years are now eligible.

Families who are on lower incomes and qualify for certain benefits can submit a claim if they have a child in:

• primary school from reception to year 6
• secondary school from year 7 to year 11

All looked after children qualify for the grant, whether they receive free school meals or not. Families are only entitled to claim once per child, per school year.

The 2022 to 2023 scheme is now open and will close on 30 June 2023.

Remember that your nearest credit union can offer affordable and manageable loans from as little as £100 to help bridge the gap.

 

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