Back to School Budgeting – Save Money This Summer


It’s been a strange year for many families. The kids have been at home, the grown-ups too, and it just seems odd thinking about going back to a normal routine of school and work. With the summer coming up and schools rushing to reopen, it’s come to that time of year again to stock up on back to school supplies. 

The average parent spends £230 on school uniforms alone every year, not to mention PE kits, stationery, books, and lunches. With all parents in the same boat, there must be ways to cut these costs down. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save money on school supplies this year.

Second-hand Uniforms

Many parents use social media groups to swap uniforms. Facebook is a good place to do this, or you can advertise in school. It’s better for little kids who grow so quickly before their uniform is even worn. It’s also a good idea to swap books and revision guides. There are many apps and websites for swapping second-hand items in your local area if you can’t find anyone. 

Make a Realistic Budget

It’s a good idea to write a checklist of only essential items and see what you already have at home. You can then make a realistic budget for what you actually still need to buy. Budgeting apps can help your with this as well. Explain to your kids that a new pencil case every year might not be that necessary. Think about where you can cut a few costs. For another quick and easy solution to any financial situation, check out payday loans.

Factor in Hidden Costs

Don’t forget about extra-curricular activities that you might need to budget for as well. Things like sports clubs and music lessons can set you back a bit. For lunch costs, you could set up an account and plan it with your children so they’ll know what to expect. If you’re looking for inspiration there are plenty of cheap lunch box ideas online. Get creative with leftovers and fun treats. Home-cooked food is much better for them than prepared meals anyway, besides being a lot tastier.

Shop in Sales

It’s hard to rely solely on second-hand items so when you do need to do some shopping, give your self some time to wait for the sales. Take into account your child’s growth in that waiting time, don’t forget. Supermarkets often have crazy cheap offers in the summer, and you’ll be able to find deals online as well. Here are some more tips and tricks for buying school uniforms. 

Determine a Savings Timeline

If you plan how much you’re going to spend on school supplies you can start developing a timeline and save up with plenty of time in advance. Put aside a piggy bank for school funds. School stuff costs a little more nowadays due to technology being implemented into their studies. Plan ahead a little for your children’s education to make sure they don’t go without.

Family · School · Shopping

The Cost of Going Back to School

When Sausage started school, we wanted to make sure that she had all of the right stuff that she needed, so we went to the local uniform shop and bought just about everything we could with a school logo on it! We probably went a little over the top, but it was worth it to make sure she had everthing she needed, and to be fair, she’s used everything we bought!

If you’re a parent, you’re well aware of how expensive life can be, and once they get to school age, that cost seems to go way up. BrightHouse have conducted a survey of over 3000 parents of primary, secondary and college age students to see how much they spend, on average, preparing their kids for the school year and the results were surprising – click on the link above to see what they found.

Overall, they estimate that the cost of going back to school was £239, although Primary age kids averaged at just £20, while college kids were the ones splashing the big bucks!

Cost of Going Back to School

Fortunately, the move from Reception class to year one wasn’t as pricey as most of Sausage’s uniform still fitted her and last years’ coat is still a perfect fit, too. Of course, new shoes were a requisite, as scuffed shoes just aren’t mustard, but in general we spent a lot less this year than we did last.

How about you? Did you spend anywhere near £239 when your kids went back to school or were you able to be far more frugal than that? Did you find that buying from supermarkets or larger retailers managed to save you money, rather than buying from specialised uniform shops?

Let me know, and don’t forget to head over to the BrightHouse website to see the full animation.

Family · Parenting

The Same As Everyone Else

I got a bit of a bollocking last night. I got home from work and a rather grumpy-faced Sausage said “Mummy, I still have a white t-shirt in my P.E. kit”. Her kit got sent home for the Christmas hols and I dutifully washed it, ready to go back. Only, on the Tuesday of her first week back, P.E. day, I realised that I’d not gathered all of the items up and put them in her bag and said-items were now spread far and wide throughout my chaotic house. I managed to locate her shorts, drummed up a pair of white socks and dug her plimsols out from under a pile of new toys, but the yellow, logo-embroidered t-shirt was nowhere to be found. In desperation I shoved a plain white v-neck into the bag, knowing that this was just as acceptable under the school’s uniform code, with promises to Sausage to replace it with the yellow one later that week.

Obviously, I forgot. Skip forward to today and Sausage has had to endure four whole sessions of Physical Education in a white t-shirt and, apparently, this just isn’t good enough.

Having been previously oblivious to the importance of the yellow t-shirt, I enquired as to whether she’d been told off for wearing a white t-shirt instead.

“No” was her reply.

Hmm. So, I asked, does anyone else wear a white top?

“Yes, the twins do”

Right, so if you’re the same as the twins, what’s the problem?

“Because everyone else wears yellow and I want to be the same as everyone else” she said.

And suddenly, it all became clear and my childhood came flooding back to me. I think, as an adult, we get so caught up in defining ourselves as one thing or another that we forget that, for the kids, it’s mostly about fitting in. Conformity is key and anything different will have you singled out. It’s like an innate survival instinct.

As an adult, and even as a teen to an extent, being ‘a bit different’ can be a great thing. But to a child, it’s the worst thing in the world and it’s suddenly become clear that it’s our jobs, as parents, to do what we can to facilitate that conformity.

When I was a youth (around 11 or 12), the Adidas track suit was king and if your trainers weren’t Reebok or Nike, you were a total loser. I got bought a black Adidas track suit with white stripes and I lived in that bloody thing until it was swinging around my ankles. But, it was a uniform and it fitted in with what everyone else was doing. That track suit got me through some tough times.

So, tonight after work, I’ll be going home, searching through the ironing pile and getting the yellow t-shirt ready for tomorrow, when I’ll extract the offending white garment from Sausage’s satchel and make the world, her world, right again. Because, while conformity might not be my cup of tea, for the moment it’s everything to Sausage and that’s just fine.

Review · School · Top of the Class

Top of the Class – Mum’s the Word Recommends…George

Up today we have George, the clothing brand from Asda.

They hit the target in terms of colour, giving us both gold and brown, so here’s what we got:

1. Leather School Shoes (price unknown)

2. Yellow School Scallop Polo Shirt (2pk) – £3

3. Brown Box Pleat Skirt – from £3.50

4. Feel Fresh Ankle Socks (7pk) – £4

The shoes don’t seem to be on the George website anymore, so I can’t comment in terms of value as I don’t know what they cost but Sausage has been wearing them for about two weeks now and they haven’t rubbed her feet at all, and they don’t have any scuffs. There’s a padded bit at the back which is presumably to reduce discomfort from rubbing, the insoles feel almost squishy like memory foam, and Sausage says they’re really comfy. There are other shoes on the site which look almost identical but with a different pattern on the front.

The polo shirt doesn’t feel like it’s made of quite as thick material as the ones from Tesco, but I do like the scalloped collar for little girls, it’s a nice touch that looks pretty and feminine.

The skirt washes up nicely and is a good length while the box pleats allow for full range of movement, so she’ll still be able to charge around whilst wearing it. It washes up nicely and has a Teflon coating to reduce stains, so I suspect it’ll last quite well too.

The socks are for size 9-12 and Sausage is a size 9 but they come up on the larger end of the scale, they bunched up around Sausage’s heel, so the 6-8.5 may have fitted better but they’re okay quality and the whole ‘feel fresh’ thing intrigues me, I’m guessing it’s something to do with not getting stinky feet, but I can’t find an explanation on the website. They also have a scalloped edge, which is pretty.

All in all, the George uniform is really nice; the polos don’t feel quite as good as the Tesco ones but the skirt feels thicker and more durable (although twice the price, but still only £3.50). The shoes are leather, which is impressive as most of the pairs on the site are below £15, and I reckon they’ll last well but only time and many hours kicking around the playground will tell!

All in all, we give George an A – narrowly missing the A* for the slightly flimsy polo but being held up by the quality and value of the other items!

Review · School · Top of the Class

Top of the Class – Mum’s the Word Recommends…Tesco Clothing

The school that Sausage will be attending is a bit of an awkward one, the colours are ‘gold and brown’ (I’m sure that was ‘yellow’, last time I looked?!) and I’ve noticed already that acquiring the correct items for her has been an issue. Yellow doesn’t seem to be too difficult to get hold of, but brown seems to be far less popular. I’m surprised that retailers don’t make a point of finding out what colours the schools in the area wear and make a point of stocking them.

Anyway, today’s Back to School review comes courtesy of Tesco Clothing.

Here’s what we got:

1. F&F Fresh Feel knee-high socks (5pk) – £4

2. F&F 100% cotton v-neck t-shirt (2pk) – £2

3. F&F Basics grey skirt – £1.75

4. Back to School Summer Dress with coordinating hair band – £4 (or 2 for £7)

5. F&F 100& cotton pique polo shirt (2pk) – £2

6 – F&F School girls stripe swimsuit – £4

One thing that struck me about the range available from Tesco is that it seems to cater for every budget. There are more expensive skirts available, but the one I picked out for £1.75 is shockingly cheap and still seems to be good quality. It washed and ironed up very nicely and quite honestly, with the amount of paint, chalk, mud and goodness knows what else Sausage will be smothering herself in at school, I’d be tempted to buy her one for every day of the week! (Although official colours are brown and gold, grey and black are accepted too)

The cotton t-shirts will be for P.E. and at £1 each, you really can’t argue with the price. The material feels really soft and is surprisingly good quality for the price, it’s not thin or flimsy at all. I love the fact that the socks come in a pack of five, giving us one pair for every day of the week and the swimming costume, which Sausage has already swum in, is comfy, covers well and washes up nicely without bobbling like some cheap cozzies.

The summer dresses are a particular favourite. I noticed when browsing the shops that some of the summer dresses around are made of pitifully thin material which would be see-through if wearing patterned undies, but the Tesco Clothing ones are thick enough so as not to be, whilst still being the sort of fabric which will keep her cool. They also come with a matching hair bobble, which is a touch that both Sausage and I love. They’re in a deal at 2 for £7 at the moment, which seems great value to me. The polo shirts are also great value and quality, which seems to be a running theme with all of the items we received.

Tesco also offer an embroidery service, which is not something we’ve used as we’ve not bought Sausage’s cardigans or fleeces yet, but it’s definitely something we’re considering, as it adds a nice touch to uniform.

All in all, Tesco Clothing and F&F offer brilliant prices, great quality and a nice range of colours and options, all of which you can check out here.

Mum’s the Word gives Tesco Clothing an A – narrowly missing out on the A* mark by not offering anything brown!