When the children go back to school after the summer holidays it can seem like an age before the bank account ever really recovers. With so many clothes to buy – especially if your child is making the step up from primary to secondary school – as well as new stationery and other school essentials, you’re almost left wishing the summer holidays had never ended – and they’re expensive enough, too!
All kids want the coolest (and usually most expensive) clothing and equipment for school to show off to their friends and play up to the ‘cool’ image. However, with parents on a budget with all kinds of other essential expenses to take care of, it’s not always the case that they can afford to buy them everything they want from a specific brand or store, and they have to make do with what they’re given. Throw in another issue whereby lots of school uniform is worn out before the end of the academic year and it’s no surprise that parents look for the cost-effective options over the designer ones.
The term cost-effective doesn’t have to mean ‘cheap’, like many believe. Instead it can be the best all-round package in terms of the quality of the product and the price, and how long it is likely to last the child. Sometimes the item doesn’t even have to be brand new, instead it could be something that you’ve bought over the Internet, with many sites now in existence that allow you to buy, sell and swap childrens clothes with other parents who are in the same position as you. This is a great way of saving money, and getting hold of essential school clothes without having to pay through the roof for them.
Many of the items being bought, sold or exchanged are lightly-used, and may have only recently been bought before the new term only for the parents to realise that they don’t fit or they weren’t actually needed so rather than filling up space in the bedroom, they’ve decided to try and recoup a little bit of cash for them or swap them for something more useful, like PE kit.
Shopping this way can open up new possibilities for parents who have previously had their hands tied financially. For instance, saving money on school uniform and equipment – and making some back by selling your unwanted items – can help you to start a ‘holiday fund’, putting money aside for the next break in the school term where you can all finally go away for a few days, something you may have been unable to do for a number of months, even years, because of how tight funds were. Okay, saving money on school uniform isn’t going to be the difference between a trip to Barbados and Hunstanton, but it’s a start!
Another really effective way of saving money on your school uniform is to ensure that you clear everything out of the wardrobe and get the children to try on every single piece of school clothing. This is likely to be time consuming and they may get bored, but at least you’ll know exactly what they have, and exactly what they need. By doing it this way, and making a list as you go, even ticking off the essentials, you can ensure that when the time comes for you to do some school uniform shopping, you don’t go buying things on impulse that look good, but they may not need.
Similarly, you could stagger your purchases. Rather than buying everything they’re likely to need throughout the academic year, evaluate the situation as the seasons (and more importantly, the weather) change. If you buy a new sweatshirt in the back-to-school sales, for example, they might not actually need to wear it until October or November, by which time they might have had a mini growth spurt and the item doesn’t fit, leaving you with a sweatshirt that is useless and a chilly child! At the same time, the money that you don’t need to be spending at that moment can be saved until it is really need, or reinvested elsewhere.