12 money-saving Back to School tips for parents

Christel Deskins

August 27, 2020 – 11:16 BST Emma Bradley How to save money on all of your Back to School buys with these financially savvy tips and tricks by parenting expert Emma Bradley. From school uniforms, to transport and personalised lunch boxes. Children are finally returning to the […]

Emma Bradley

Children are finally returning to the classroom after the longest break we could ever have imagined, and parents will be relieved and thankful that they are no longer expected to play the role of teacher and the experts will once again be picking up the reins. Back to School is always an expensive time for parents up and down the country. Children haven’t been in uniform since March and many will have had growth spurts and who knows where all the stationery has gone over the past six months!

If you are trying to save some money before school starts, you are not alone, and with that in mind we have put together our top money saving tips for a stress free and financially savvy Back to School.

RELATED: Best back to school uniform deals: Where to buy reasonably-priced school uniform for kids

Save money by auditing your children’s wardrobes

Our top tip is to firstly to audit what you do have at home. Before you hit the shops have a good look in the wardrobe and see what you have already. Many school uniform essentials can be reworn and you might even find some bits still in pristine condition. You don’t have to buy new just because it is September. Only then, start writing a list of what you actually need to get.

READ: A Back to School essentials checklist for a COVID-19 world – the ultimate guide

Save money by buying second-hand

Many of us are trying to be more sustainable and this could include school uniform. Check out Facebook Marketplace, local selling pages and even your local charity shops for lightly worn school uniform. Many schools also have second-hand uniform sales ran by the PTA so contact the school and ask. If not, you could even help set one up for your school and help other parents out too.

SHOP: 11 little-known Back to School brands that should be on your radar

Save money by doing a supermarket sweep

If you are not tied to wearing uniform with school logos, then the supermarkets often have affordable ranges. You can pick up skirts or trousers whilst doing the food shop, so it also saves you time. Look for crease free fabrics to save you ironing on a Sunday afternoon!

Save money by labelling your children’s property

Primary schools are often warm environments with the kids taking on and off cardigans, PE kits are kicked all around the cloakroom and it has been known for children to come home with the wrong shoes on. Label their property, it makes the teacher’s life easier after PE and your child is likely to be reunited with any missing clothes much quicker. Don’t think labelling is the time thief it once was, Stamptastic make the task super speedy with a reusable stamp and ink pad. The ink will withstand up to 50 washes, and the stamp will last forever!


Sew on name labels, from £3.99, Etsy


READ: How Coronavirus will change school life in September – and possibly for good

Save money by shopping for personalised items

When buying pencil cases or stationery look for personalised items. They maybe a little more expensive initially but they can save money in the long run as it is a lot easier to keep your items if they have a name on them. Pencils are often mixed up and proving they are yours is next to impossible, but if they are engraved with your child’s name or initials, they can’t be mistaken for other classmates.


Personalised pencil case, £14, Not On The High Street


SHOP: Best stationery for kids going back to school post-lockdown – and the best deals

Save money by shopping for refurbished tech and sim only deals

If older students need tech equipment including laptops for homework and research projects, look at refurbished models rather than buying new. Many tweens and teens bust a gut to get a mobile phone as they transition to secondary school, but they don’t need the latest expensive models as they are prone to be lost or smashed anyway. Let them have a refurbished phone or even better your old model when you get an upgrade. This way they only need a SIM deal, we love Sky Mobile for this as you can even share data between family members using Piggybank.

MORE: The best Back to School tech deals & gadgets for students returning to school in September

Save money by being a cashback Queen

When buying online get rewarded with TopCashBack. For each tracked purchase a percentage is passed back into your account that you can withdraw at a later date. Therefore, if you are buying uniform or equipment online make sure you utilise this money saving tip, savvy shoppers often save their cash back up and withdraw once a year for a more noticeable amount.

READ: 13 cool backpacks for teenagers going back to school in September

Save money on transport

Walking or cycling to school can save money and the environment plus it keeps the kids fit. Rather than jumping in the car for convenience plan your journey and allow time to walk. Over the course of a month this can save a fair bit of money. If you can’t walk to school, then look at sharing the journey with another local parent. This can take the financial pressure off plus you win some time back if you are sharing the responsibility.


Kids mountain bike, £108.99, Argos


Save money with packed Lunches

Creating a healthy packed lunch is much cheaper than paying for school dinners plus you have more control over what the kids are eating. Making egg muffins are tasty options and there are plenty of snacks that teenagers will happily eat too. These healthy snacks are ideal for lunch boxes.

READ: 14 best warm foods to pack for kids’ lunchboxes

Save money on drinks for school

Most children don’t drink enough during the day and taking a leak-proof water bottle to school is a good habit, and of course, children can fill their water bottles up for free at school. This saves money on buying drinks and if your child doesn’t like water one of those small concentrated squashes can easily be carried in a schoolbag.


Personalised ‘rainbow’ water bottle, £14.95, Not on The High Street


Save money on school shoes

School kids’ shoes need to be pretty indestructible. They work hard as are obviously worn five days a week for 8 hours a time and children’s feet need to be well supported during their growing years. Treads offer a 12-month money back guarantee that their shoes will stand the test of time.

SHOP: The best school shoes for kids

Save money by planning ahead for additional costs 

Finally, the last money saving tip for Back to School encourages parents to plan ahead. School trips and swimming lessons are part and parcel of the school year and can be planned for. If you commit to putting £25 a month away for school costs you will have money to hand when those emails land in your inbox. At the end of the school year if you have any money left over in your kitty then that money can go towards next Septembers Back to School!

Emma Bradley is a money-saving and parenting blogger at emmaand3.com, she is a qualified teacher who has three children and writes as a parenting expert.

MORE: Back to school anxiety? Top child psychologist shares expert advice – for both kids and parents

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