Budgeting for back to school

Concerned about the costs associated with sending kids to school?

Whether it’s a big expense like a school trip or the daily cost of school meals, sending your child to school isn’t cheap. Yet there are ways to budget for the new school term and save money by making some smart choices. Here are just a few of our tips.

Saving money on stationery

When the kids go back to school, stationery can end up costing a lot – especially for older children who want everything to look just right and may even need special equipment (like scientific calculators). But there are some simple ways to save money on stationery, whatever your child’s age.

If you have more than one child, consider buying in bulk; notepads, paper, pens, pencils, glue and scissors are all available to buy in bulk online and you can save considerable amounts by doing so. Squirrel extra notebooks and pens away in a safe space (or your own personal stationery cupboard) for the kids to access when they run out. You can even split the bulk order with other parents to still save money without being lumped with 50 glue sticks.

The school may be able to help too, if they are buying in bulk, or the PTA may have some suggestions. For technical equipment like scientific calculators, or items you know will get worn out easily (like pencil cases or school bags), you can shop second hand on places like eBay to save an extra couple of pounds.

Saving money on uniform

In the Parentkind annual survey, uniform was mentioned as the biggest cause of concern for parents when it comes to cost. To save money, start by looking at second-hand uniform sales; this can be a great place to find nearly-new items at a fraction of the regular price. Alternatively, you could connect with local parents through Facebook groups and see if they can help out; most people would prefer their items go to people who can use them rather than into landfill.

If you want to buy new, go for high quality uniform rather than cheaper alternatives. While it might seem counter-intuitive, in the long run it provides better value for money as you won’t need to replace it due to shrinkage or discolouration (unlike inexpensive options). It’s also a good idea to think carefully about what your children will actually need for the new school year; one to wear, one to wash and one to store is a good rule of thumb.

And you can always use one of the new payment-spreading options, like Klarna, to manage the cost of buying new school uniform. Klarna gives you the option to buy now and pay later, meaning your kids can try on the uniform to make sure it fits before you pay for it. You can also spread the cost over three instalments to make it easier on your household budget.

Saving money on extra kit

It’s often the little things that add up when it comes to getting prepared for the new term. Water bottles, new accessories, even textbooks or study guides for older children – it all ends up costing a lot of money.

One way to save money is to buy second hand, particularly for study guides (extra notes!) and textbooks. You can try second hand sellers on Amazon or eBay, or an independent business. For extra back to school treats, like a new keyring, hair accessories or a watch, hunt out one-of-a-kind vintage items. You can also try out making your own or customising items, particularly folders, bags, notebooks or small accessories – it’s a great way to spend time with your children, create something unique for them, save money and be more sustainable.


Right now, it feels more important than ever to stick to your household budget. With a few simple tricks you can make sure your kids have everything they need without breaking the bank, so while it might not be exactly back to normal, it’ll definitely be back to school.