‘Twas the night before Back to School and all through the house Nic from Team Netmums in Scotland was running around like a blue arsed fly getting everything ready and organised to make the cruel early start for the school run a little easier to bear…She looked over the small mountain of newly bought items all ready for the trip back to the classroom…shiny new school bags, pencil cases crammed with newly sharpened pencils, pretty new lunch boxes and water bottles, spankingly new uniform with nerry a crease or mud stain in sight, new coats, trainers for gym, PE shoes for indoors, new shiny school shoes, gym bags, gym kit, a couple of school sweatshirts and polo shirts with the school’s logo on, which for some reason cost ten times as much as the rest of the supermarket bought kit….
‘How much did you spend on all that gubbins?’, groaned her husband…
‘Ermmm….oh hardly anything – they were all quite cheap…’ she trilled quickly in reply, sweeping incriminating receipts swiftly into her handbag.
Truth is she daren’t tot it up as the figure she had forked out would be too hideous to face.
It’s not cheap kitting the kids out for Back to School that’s for sure. A recent survey claimed that when you also chuck in any new techy gadgets into the mix (tablets, smartphones MP3 players..) then the average parent forks out £550.80….. per child! Enough to make your eyes water.
If you haven’t even started thinking about Back to School (and don’t rest on your laurels too long or all the best stuff gets snapped up and you’ll be trawling the shops desperately searching for a school bag and a pinafore in the right size) then we’ve put together some handy tips to help lesson your financial pain.
- Stick to a list – write down everything you need and don’t veer from this list. There will be pretty extras crying out for you to pick them off the shelves (and little voices pleading too) but stay strong! Use the force, only take out what you plan to spend or just dig deep and find that extra ounce of will power…If you’re not sure what you’ll need – here’s a checklist as a starting point.
- Do an inventory first – Before you hit the shops check if you have any items on the list around the house – pencils lurking in drawers, T-shirts and joggers that can be used as gym kit, has last year’s school bag still got some life left in it, can you clean up last year’s lunch box, do some of last year’s clothes still fit (they only broke up six weeks ago)?
- Preloved can be as good as new – all it takes is a quick clean and it can be spick and span and as good as new – except you will have saved yourself a small fortune. Check your local Netmums Nearly New and see if you can pick up some bargains. If there are none listed post a ‘Wanted’ ad and you might be in luck. Our Netmums Nearly New is a great place to hunt for winter coats, expensive items like logo-ed uniform and blazers, branded PE kit etc. Before you hit the shops or trawl the internet with your credit card a quivering make it your first port of call.
- Trawl charity shops near your child’s school – you can often find uniform there at this time of year.
- Are there second hand sales? Check (ask other mums or on the Netmums noticeboard) if your school holds a second hand uniform sale at the start of term – often you can pick up some real bargains and save a small fortune this way. Or ask other local mums if they have any hand-me-downs. Often they have wardrobes full of unwanted items they will be all to happy to pass on to get some more use.
- Hunt down bargains – supermarkets are often tripping over themselves at this time of year with cheap uniform deals and BOGOFs. Aldi, for example, sell an entire uniform for just £4. Other supermarkets have items starting from £1.50. If you find a bargain – buy the next size up too so you will save money when your child grows too. Be warned a few months down the line and the ‘seasonal’ uniform stock will be no longer there or there will only be a few items in odd sizes. Grab it now whilst you can and stock up.
- Buy plain and jazz things up – plain supplies are often cheaper and you can add your own personal touch with stickers, badges and colourful doodles (get out your Sharpie pens!). Pound shops are good hunting ground for plainer items which you can then customise. You might have to do a bit of a hard-sell on your kids to veer them away from colourful character emblazened lunchboxes and pencils cases for this one but it can save you a pretty penny or two…
- Stock up throughout the year – Throughout the year look out for sales and bargains and stock up – buy the next size of uniform, chuck in a few supplies and store them for when you need to replace items.
- Get out those Sharpies! – you can buy some really lovely fancy labels BUT if you want to save a few extra pounds at the end of your shopping list then a Sharpie or even biro used to write the name on washing labels works just as well. Whatever you do – short of writing on your child’s forehead – label EVERYTHING. If you don’t all the new kit will mysteriously disappear and you will be consigned to rummaging through the musty lost property box trying to retrieve it and you may face up to all the money you spent on new kit vanishing into thin air forever as you never retrieve the lost items.
We spotted these utterly cute (and completely FREE) printable lunchbox notes on Google +. Print out gorgeous messages (such as ‘Hope you’re having a great day’) and pop them in your child’s lunchbox to show them you’re thinking of them.
Have we missed any fab tips for saving money on kitting out your kids for school? If so please do share them with us.