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Saving money on your kid’s school expenses

Posted 06 July 2016

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5 top tips to save money on your kid’s school expenses.

It can be so wonderful to watch your children progress through school - making friends, learning important skills and of course experiencing the fun side of school, like social events and trips. 

Having said that, the costs that come along with having children in the school system can sometimes make things a little tight at home, especially if you’re already juggling a lot of other bills and repayments. 

But with a little creative thinking and ingenuity, it’s always possible to make savings here and there. Here are our top tips for saving money on the main school expenses. 

1. Packed lunches over school dinners

In general, it’s safe to say that it’s cheaper to make your own packed lunches for your children, rather than paying for school dinners. The added bonus is that you can make sure they’re eating something healthy every day.

Why not try making something yummy and filling for tea for the whole family and using the leftovers for school the next day – and don’t forget to make good use of your freezer so nothing goes to waste. And don’t forget the good old sandwich, snack and piece of fruit combination. 

When you’re planning your lunchboxes for your kids, try to make sure that it’s nutritionally balanced, the NHS has a great page on what you can include and we’ve done a blog on how to master nutrition on a budget.

2. School trips

School trips may not happen that often, but when they do you might find that you have to shell out quite a lot of money all at once, which can sometimes throw your budget into disarray. 

If you want your child to benefit from the life experience of a school trip there might be no way to avoid paying the price as how it much it costs is really down to the school rather than yourself. But, there are ways to lessen the impact on your finances. 

First of all start saving all year round. Whenever you find yourself with a little something to save, put it away in a separate account, or simply a piggy bank if you want. You’ll really thank yourself when you get that letter from school and you’ve already got something to put towards it. 

The next thing you should do is check whether you’re entitled to tax credits, and if you are, try to put the money towards any trips that come up. There are two types you might be entitled to – child tax credits if you’re on a low income and have children, or working tax credits for people on a low income. Explore this Government page to check whether you’re entitled to either one of these benefits.

Other than that, see whether you could use the money that you normally give to your children as pocket money for the trip instead. If they have their heart set on going, they might be quite willing to put some of their own money towards it rather than miss out. 

3. Uniforms

When it comes to school spending, buying new uniforms is definitely essential. See whether your school has any kind of “uniform swap” scheme at the start of term where you can exchange old uniforms in good condition with other parents wanting to do the same. 

Look out for announcements on your school’s Facebook page, if they have one. 

There are also Freecycle groups that connect people wanting to give and get all sorts of items completely free, like freelywheely in the Greater Manchester area. You might be able to find generic items like grey trousers or black shoes on one of these sites – just search Google to see what’s in your area. 

4. Stationery

Buying in bulk is one way to save money on stationery supplies. See whether you can get a few parents to agree to buy their supplies together as there might be a saving to be had that way. You should also shop around and see whether there are any deals you can get online. 

It’s also a good idea to make a shopping list of what is actually needed and really try hard to stick to it. A list can help stop you or your child being enticed by any over-priced extras that you might see when you’re out and about. I might even be an idea to leave the kids with the other half or their grandparents while you go out and do the shopping! 

5. Transport

You may be entitled to free school transport for your children depending on your income level, whether there’s a safe walking route and whether they have any special educational needs. 

This handy Government page outlines the details, including what makes you eligible for this kind of help. If you think the walk to school isn’t safe for your child, you should contact your local council and if your child needs help because of educational needs, click here to apply for financial help. 

Other than that, why not see whether you can organise a school run rota with some other parents who live close-by? That way at least you’ll all get to save some money and not have to drive to school as often as you normally would. 

There you go! 5 ways to cut down on the main costs related to school. Does your child have a birthday coming up? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered on that too – check out our tips to save money on a kid’s birthday party.

by Christine Walsh

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