How to be a Savvy Back-to-School Shopper

We've got some top tips to make sure you'll still have some money left in the bank after your little ones have headed back to school...

Image: IngImage.Image: IngImage.

In 2016, parents spent an average of £186.24 per child on new products and clothes for school, according to figures from Nationwide. For many families, this puts the back-to-school shop up there with Christmas and birthdays for annual spending, often stretching the household budget.

If you're one of the many parents that find themselves checking their bank balance when September slinks into view, it's handy to know that there are ways of cutting spending while providing your child with all they need for school. Let's take a look at our four top tips for being a savvy back-to-school shopper...

1. Take advantage of the supermarket price wars

Recently, there has been a lot of coverage given to the 'price wars' between supermarkets to attract back-to-school shoppers. This can only be a good thing for you as a parent, as it drives down the cost of buying school essentials altogether.

If your child's school requires you to buy certain uniform items from a designated school shop, then be sure that you buy only the essentials, such as the embroidered sweatshirt or blazer. The rest of the plain items can be purchased from a supermarket for a fraction of the cost you'll find in specialist clothing shops. You can also find great deals on stationery and other essentials in supermarkets too, so be sure to check elsewhere after visiting the uniform department.

2. Invest in quality school shoes

While it's great to find a bargain on generic school clothing items, your child's shoes deserve a little more thought and investment. Buying cheap footwear might sound appealing, especially when you consider how much wear and tear they will be subjected to, but cut-price shoes are much more likely to fall apart and will end up costing you more in the long-run. Quality footwear will last, while proving to be more comfortable and supportive for your child's developing feet.

In their guide to buying school shoes, kids' footwear specialist Charles Clinkard recommends that you get your child's feet measured by an expert every time you buy a new pair. This is because growing feet can often go through a spurt, often requiring more than just the next size up or even a switch to different fit altogether. Getting the right measure will ensure that your little one's feet are properly cared for.

3. Don't indulge in all the extras

Many schools will issue a back-to-school checklist that lists items your child needs for the coming year. However, they can often be bloated with supplies that are just recommended and not exactly essential, so it's worth double checking with the school to find out what is actually required. In addition, some items such as calculators, protractors and compasses aren't needed straight away and can be picked up cheaper in the back-to-school clearance sales in late-September.

4. Monitor money-saving sites to find a bargain

There's a whole nation of money-savvy parents out there and an enthusiastic online community dedicated to tracking down the very best bargains. You can use this to your advantage to get up-to-date information about where is the best place to shop for supplies. 

Bargain websites like HotDeals have user-created listings of the best offers and discounts around, while money-saving sites like Play Pennies and MoneySavingExpert have regularly updated round-ups of reductions and deals. You can also use cashback sites like TopCashback, who have a back-to-school hub to help you earn back some funds on each of your purchases.

Keep our four tips in mind when you go shopping and you will be able to save a lot of money on back to school gear without compromising on your child's needs. Good luck!

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Guest Tuesday, 26 September 2017