The return to school needn’t be a squeeze on your bank balance

BY JULIAN BERKELEY Christians Against Poverty

School’s in: The good (or bad) news is that it’s time to go back to school!

School’s in: The good (or bad) news is that it’s time to go back to school!

ONE moment you’re sunbathing on the beach and the next you’re rushing around the shops juggling uniforms, pencil cases and gym wear.

The back-to-school rush has arrived, but it’ll be over in the blink of an eye. Here are some top tips from CAP to make sure that, when it leaves, it doesn’t leave you with an empty bank account too.

Be smart, start online: Instead of dragging the children on that dreaded back-to-school shop, stay home and look online.

Sit comfortably with a cup of tea and see what you can find without having to use fuel, energy and a great chunk of time.

Whilst you might still have to take them shoe shopping, you can buy white shirts and jogging gear cheap online and with one simple click.

Buy with time to spare, so that if it doesn’t fit you can always return it!

Stick to the list: It’s tempting to stray from the list, especially when you’re in the shops surrounded by a hundred things your child ‘has to have!’ Sticking to the plan is key and will help you stay on budget.

Why not write a list together beforehand, so that the kids know exactly what they’re looking for?

Challenge them to stick to budget and test their maths’ skills along the way. Even offer a prize for completing the task; a chocolate bar at the end will be a lot cheaper than five extra folders and a designer pencil case!

Have fun, get creative: Instead of buying new, look for some old, plain folders and get the kids to revamp them.

Invite friends over so that they can all join in on the fun, and get working on this fun, rainy-day project.

If they’re feeling really creative, challenge them to make their own pencil case! Look on sites such as WikiHow or Pinterest to discover how.

Throw a swap and change party: Do your children have lots of old shirts you are desperate to throw out?

Get together with other parents at your child’s school and swap school gear, along with toys and gadgets.

Whilst the kids are busy swapping toys, you can grab a few second hand school jumpers at no cost whatsoever!

Look for bargain buys: These days supermarkets stock it all and are full of great deals. Discount stores Aldi and Lidl are currently offering a full school uniform for under £4 the lot!

Why not head straight there instead of trailing up and down the high street?

With the stationery aisle being next to the clothes section, it’s easy to find all those school essentials.

Ask around to see if anyone has any vouchers or coupons you can use.

Charity shops are also a good place to look and are becoming increasingly popular. Often hiding vintage accessories and designer clothes, it’s worth seeing what you can find.

Take the kids on a day out and see what little gems you come across!


For help with budgeting, try a free money management course.
Visit to find one near you.
Or if you are struggling with unmanageable debt, Christians Against Poverty offer free advice regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Call 0800 328 0006