The school holidays are just under way but shops are already stocking school uniform and ‘back to school’ is everywhere.
What you need to know if you’re buying school uniform for the first time
- Buy short-sleeved shirts – Even for winter, buy short-sleeved as opposed to long. Children seem to prefer no cuffs as they are more ‘free’ and there are no fiddly buttons. I prefer them as cuffs always get filthy and never come properly clean again. Short sleeved means that often you can get two day’s wear out of the same shirt
- Velcro fastening/riptape collar shirts – No fiddly top button to negotiate. Marks and Spencer do velcro instead of a top button on shirts for children up to the age of 8
- Two pairs of trousers or two pinafores is enough for the week – Girls will need a couple more summer dresses for the Summer term (they show up dirt more!)
- Pinafore instead of a skirt – For girls, buy pinafores. They keep everything in place (no untucked shirts, which happens instantly with the skirts) and helps avoid canteen medallions on the shirt so you can often get two day’s wear out of the same shirt
- Invest in heavier duty sturdy school shoes – The far cheaper supermarket ones are very appealing, but they don’t last. They are however a good stopgap if your child has a sudden growth spurt and needs another pair but the timing is wrong for buying the ‘main’ pair. Startrite are a really good fit and very durable.
- Buy velcro-fastening shoes – Much faster in the mornings and much easier for them to get changed for PE
- When to buy school shoes – It might be tempting to get the shoes bought nice and early, but leave buying until the last minute. Childrens’ feet have a habit of growing fast in summer! New school starters will be back at school a week or two after the other children, so these in-between weeks are a great time to go as it’ll have quietened down in the shops
- Plimsoles – You can definitely buy cheaper plimsoles. They get such light use in the first couple of years that it’s pointless buying expensive ones
After the school uniform, books are usually the most expensive purchase for most parents when it comes to back to school costs. Here are our 8 practical money-saving tips for buying school books.
Back to school costs range from uniforms and school shoes to school bags, lunch boxes and stationery. While there is often an opportunity to shop around for many of these things, one of the largest costs centres around buying school books – and this cost only increases as your child progresses through primary to secondary school. Invest on a synonyms and antonymns lesson book.
As parents, we know how daunting this can be, so here are our top money-saving tips for buying school books that will hopefully help keep your costs (and stress levels) down.
How to Save Money Buying School Books
#1. Check What You Have
Before splashing out on new school books, check what you have at home. You may not be able to re-use workbooks, but may have other books that an older sibling or cousin used that you have forgotten about.
#2. Plan Ahead and Shop Early
As soon as your school books list comes out, start shopping. Many school book retailers offer seasonal discounts for the early purchase of school books. So look out for offers and plan ahead.
Do compare prices and offers as some may include book covering, while others may do free delivery, for example this Australian curriculum editorial does both and worldwide deliveries.
#3. School Book Rental Schemes
Check if your school offers a book rental scheme. Even if you have younger children coming along, at the speed that educational books change editions and the introduction of new curriculum books, it can be cost-effective to avail of the book rental service.
#4. Buy & Sell Secondhand
It is worth looking our for school books in secondhand school book stores, you can make significant savings by buying secondhand. Do check that you are getting the latest edition needed for your child, compare the ISBN number on the book list with the secondhand book.
You can also make money by selling your old school books too, or at least get credits towards the cost of your next years school books.
#5. Sell School Books Days
If they don’t already do so, you could also encourage your school to have a “sell / buy my school books day” where near the end of the year, parents and children can bring along their school books from the previous year and sell them to children moving up into that class.
#6. Use Social Channels
With the rise in social media usage by both parents and students, especially at 2nd & 3rd level, it is worth putting a shout out on social media for your school books.
#7. Check Allowances
Check if you are entitled to a back to school allowance from the state as part of social welfare payments.
Also check if your school is part of any back to school schemes. Some schools work with local bookstores to help families with the cost of buying school books. These are often offered in the form of vouchers that parents can apply for and then use towards the cost of school books.
These schemes are usually aimed at parents who do not already receive the back to school allowance, but may have several children going to school or find themselves in financial hardship.
#8. Save Towards Back to School Costs
I know it sounds simple and we are all full of good intentions at the start of a new school year, but it can really help if you put away a little each month towards back to school costs.
The best way to do this is to add up the receipts from the back to school expenses and divide it by 12 (or 10 if you want to have a couple of months off). Save what you need each month and you’ll have what you need for the next year.