We all know that school holidays can dent your finances (especially if the weather isn’t that great) but term time economics can be just as draining. School clothes, lunch money, bus fares, school trips… so here’s our GCSE in how to make the money go further.
Making a budget
We tend to think about budgeting for gas and electric and the weekly food shop but it’s worth doing the same for school expenses. There are specific expenses at the beginning of term, such as new clothes and footwear, but don’t forget regular items such as school meals and trips.
Ask your child’s form teacher what trips are likely to be taking place that academic year so you can plan ahead. A number of bank accounts now offer online budgeting tools which can help you plan financially. Compare accounts using a site like MoneySupermarket.com
Top tip – get kids involved in budgeting – it’s never too young to learn. For example, how much does their pocket money mount up to annually? Get them to work it out. Would they prefer slightly more money in the school holidays and slightly less in term time?
PS – don’t forget things like gifts for staff or children at birthdays and Christmas times. Ideally use some of our gift ideas and make your own. Get the children to make gifts and cards rather than buying them.
Other ways to save cash -
- share the school run with other parents to cut petrol costs or organise a walking bus
- walk the children to the next bus fare stage to reduce the fare
- take a home made snack when you meet children after school rather than stopping at the sweety shop
- organise a school clothes swap event so parents can hand on school clothes that their children have outgrown but which still have some wear left in them. How to organise a swap event
Clothes and shoes
Whether your child’s school has a strict uniform policy or just some basic guidelines, school clothing costs can mount up. Lots of supermarkets offer amazing bargains on skirts, shirts, shorts and trousers but watch the quality – check the seams and hems to see how well they’re made. Clothes and shoes can be made to last longer with a little TLC. Always polish or treat new shoes as soon as you get them home and before they’re worn.
Prolonging the life of school clothes
Packed lunches are tasty and cheap. Getting the kids involved in making them is also a great way to teach them basic cookery skills and the basics of good nutrition. Don’t just think sandwiches but flat bread wraps, pittas and pasta. And home made soup in a flask as the weather gets cold.
And take the kids food shopping with you. Don’t let them just put their favorites into the trolley but give them a mini budget of their own to work with as you walk round.
Dressing up costumes
School plays, Book Week, themed birthday parties… going out and buying fancy dress costumes can cost some serious money – and they never want to wear the same thing twice. Try your hand at making things. For example, shape tin foil into a hook, wrap with sticky tape and fix to a broom handle for an instant shepherd’s crook ( I once made 10 of these for the school Christmas play).