The start of the school year can be a very expensive time for parents.
With schools expecting polished pupils with all the right gear, glossy shoes and sparkling uniforms, the costs naturally pile high.
But especially this year when lots of families are struggling to stay afloat in the cost of living crisis, it’s important to know that there are things that can help slash your back to school expenses.
So from recycling old shoes to buying second-hand and help with uniform costs, the start of term dread doesn’t have to be as bad as usual with these money-saving hacks.
Make money while you shop for essentials
Do you like free money? Well, if you shop online and you don’t use a cashback website, that is exactly what you are missing out on.
To get started, register with a site such as Quidco or Top Cashback and then every time you buy online, visit one of the 4,500-plus retailers via your chosen cashback operator, rather than directly.
It’s easy to make money on your regular annual outgoings, such as insurance policies, mobile tariffs and booking holidays.
If you buy online frequently, it doesn’t take long before it soon adds up. According to Quidco, the average shopper can make around £300 a year.
Get paid to recycle shoes
Making money from recycling may seem too good to be true, but it’s surprising how much you can earn by making the most of retailers that pay you for keeping unwanted items out of landfill.
Head to Schuh with a pair of shoes from any brand to exchange for £5 off a £25 spend voucher, valid on full-price shoes either in store or online. You’ll get one voucher per pair of shoes you take to be recycled.
But it’s not just your little one’s footwear that can earn you cash – adults can take unwanted shoes in for the same voucher.
Find out more at Schuh.
Buy second-hand to save on tech
Check out the refurbished store Amazon Renewed as you could get a better deal on pricey gadgets – saving as much as a third. Here you can find smartphones, iPads and laptops at a reduced price compared with buying the same items new.
The best part? Everything on Amazon Renewed is tested by qualified suppliers to
make sure they look and work like new. Items purchased are all backed by Amazon’s return policy and a separate one-year limited warranty, so if the product isn’t up to scratch you shouldn’t lose out.
Student discounts for school staff
Few people realise that if you’re employed as staff at a school – even if you work in the office not the classroom – you can take advantage of student discounts that are on offer at restaurants and retailers via the bargain platform, Unidays perfect for back-to-school shopping.
And the savings can soon add up – for instance, you can get a six months’ free trial of Amazon Prime, 10 per cent off at WH Smith and as much as 35 per cent off at restaurants such as Domino’s, Yo Sushi and Pizza Express as well as discounts at retailers including as JD Sports, Pretty Little Thing and Asos.
Check your Nike shoes warranty
Do you kids demolish their trainers faster than you can say Nike Air Force 1? If you find their kicks are falling apart earlier than expected, you may be able to save them (or at least get some store credit) thanks to Nike’s return policy.
You can easily check if your trainers are still covered under the two-year manufacturing warranty by looking at the tag on the inside of your shoe. In addition to your size, you’ll see two dates printed on either side.
The date on the left is the purchase order date, or when the retailer decided to order the trainers from Nike. On the right is the manufacturing date, which will determine your return window.
Check out Nike for more information.
Hand-me-downs are a win/win: not only a great way to cut costs but a way to make a positive impact on the environment.
If you have friends with children around the same age, it’s worth asking them if they have anything that would fit your child. Local marketplaces and apps like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can help you pick up a bargain.
Help with school uniform costs
If you’re on a low income and struggling with the cost of school uniform, you could get up to £200 to help in the form of a non-repayable grant. School uniforms can be a significant expense for many families, with some parent surveys finding that the annual cost can reach more than £300 per child.
But all local authorities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and some in England (though here it’s a postcode lottery), have schemes in place to help
parents and carers shoulder this cost.
Money Saving Expert has a brilliant round-up of what’s on offer.
Save up to 50% on school shoes
Marketing geniuses have led us to believe we need to shell out an arm and a leg on school shoes in order to be good parents – but those costs soon add up. To make matters worse, it’s only going to get more expensive as your little one moves into larger sizes and the VAT kicks in.
The good news is that Clarks sells a shoe-measuring gauge for £8.50, which means that you can check your child’s shoe size without having to go in store.
You can then make the most of the Clarks online outlet and buy your kid’s footwear for a fraction of the cost – saving as much as 50% a pop.
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