Ways to keep back-to-school costs within your budget

  • Money Advice Service advises parents on how to avoid getting in to debt over back-to-school costs
  • Majority of parents in the UK spend around £300 on associated purchases

Sending the kids back to school after the summer holidays might be a relief for some parents, but it can also be an expensive time.

The majority of parents are spending around £300* on the annual ‘back-to-school’ shop, according to Equifax research conducted in 2016. And some families are under enormous financial pressures throughout the year, once you consider after-school clubs, transport and school trips and especially if there’s more than one child in the household.

To meet these costs, parents may feel under pressure to turn to their savings or potentially look to other forms of borrowing, such as credit cards or short term loans.

But this could push parents into debt before the children even start their first term. That is why the Money Advice Service have developed some handy tips on how to keep a budget and stick to it.

Some ways to manage your back to school budget.

  • Hang on to old uniforms, if kept in good condition, often these can be passed down to younger siblings.
  • Buy uniforms a bit larger than you think you need. Children grow very quickly and you can always take up the hems of trousers and bring them down again.
  • Make use of coupons, promotions and offers throughout the year.
  • Shop around for textbooks or technology that are required to aid your children’s education. Buying products online or second hand could save you money and really make a difference.
  • Build up an emergency fund. No matter how good you are at budgeting, you can rely on the need to find more money at short notice.
  • Set up a children’s savings account. They can start managing their own account once they reach the age of seven. These accounts offer a great way to learn how to manage money and help get kids into the savings habit.

Kirsty Bowman-Vaughan children and young people expert at the Money Advice Service says:

“We all want the best for our kids, but parents need to be realistic about what they can and can’t afford. By planning ahead, parents can ensure that they don’t get carried away and also see areas where they may be able to cut back. Our handy back to school planner gives parents a really useful oversight of what they are going to spend. Also, talking to your children early on about money can also make a difference in the long run in shaping money attitudes and behaviours for the whole household”.

The way in which parents manage money plays an important role in shaping kids’ financial behaviour and attitude towards money later on in life. By involving children in discussions about money from an early age will give them the independence, understanding and best chance of being financially secure in later life, causing less strain on the parents in the future.

To help parents see what they will spend their money on and plan accordingly, the Money Advice Service has produced a Back to School planner which can be found at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/back-to-school-planner.

Kirsty discusses this issue further in our back to school video.

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